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LI E) RARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 
or ILLI NOIS 

823 
L777h 

v.l 



THE 



HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



THE 



HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



% f oljcl 



BY 



JESSIE SALE LLOYD. 



IX TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LONDON : 

TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8. CATEERTNE STREET, STRAND. 

1877. 

[B'yht of Tmnslution reserved ly the Author.] 



LONDOK : 

SAVILL, EDWAEDS ANO CO., PKIJfTEBS, CHANDOS STHEPT, 

COVEJfT OAKDEK. 






^ 



K 



CONTENTS 



OF 



H THE FIRST VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 1 

X II. FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE 7S 

III. LAURA Grafton's visit 116 

^^. IV. THE two roses 150 

,.^ V. the mystery 1^6 



VI. BERYL CHANTLER 20 



fc^ 



THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 



f 



CHAPTER I. 

TO BE, OH NOT TO BE? 

ATE KEELEY sat with an open 
letter in her hand. She had read 
it through dispassionately — no 
tremor could have been seen upon her lips 
— no deeper shade upon her cheek — no 
softening in her dark eyes — ^yet she had 
just received her first offer of marriage, and 
was debating whether she should or should 
not accept it. 

Greorge Grafton had written her an open, 
manly letter, telling her of his love, and 
VOL. I. 1 



2 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

asking her to become his wife. She did not 
care for him one bit — of thaf; she was quite 
aware, but the question was, how she should 
get the most enjoyment out of her life — as 
a poor single woman, or a rich married 
one ? 

Kate had been left an orphan, at an age 
when girls most require a mother's guidance. 
A railway accident had deprived her of both 
her parents at once, and she was left to the 
tender mercies of a serious maiden great- 
aunt. 

She was then but a tall sfirl of fifteen years 
old, with large wistful brown eyes, and 
nothing else particular to distinguish her, 
except the unusually firm expression of her 
mouth and square cut chin, which made 
you feel the child would be powerful here- 
after for good or evil. 

Miss Maria Ansell (Kate's great-aunt) 



TO BE, OE NOT TO BE? 



was a good woman in her way, but totally 
wanting in the milk of human kindness. 
She had lived hard as a poor gentlewoman^ 
had the very narrowest experience and 
views of life, but a keen sense of duty. 
Duty governed her existence — to duty, 
everything must be sacrificed — yes, even 
she herself! Difficult as she found it to 
make ends meet, and much as she disliked 
children, she must adopt her niece's 
daughter — the girl had no one else in the 
world, and it was " her duly" — and Miss 
Ansell sat more upright than ever with the 
conscious pride of having put away tempta- 
tion — the temptation of closing the doors of 
her cottage against Kate Kerley. Such a 
new element within its walls. Miss Ansell 
knew full well, would put her life out of 
time ; and with a grim smile she determined 
to keep a '' strict hand" over the girl. 

1—2 



4 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

She had not forgotten how her niece had 
" disgraced" herself by running away with 
a penniless man, and why, forsooth ? 
because she loved him ! 

Loved him, indeed ! — no respectable girl 
would give sucli a reason for "misconduct" 
so gross ! 

She really could not think what had 
•come to the young women of the present 
•day — they were ready to throw themselves 
at the head of the first man who asked 
them — and were always louuging about in 
attitudes that no modest girls would have 
adopted when she was young. Well she 
Temembered going to see her niece after 
her marriage — it was her first and only 
visit. 

She found her sitting before the fire in 
an easy chair, and her husband beside her 
in another smoking ! and she had — ^yes ! 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 



actually she had her feet on the fender with 
her dress up in front several inches, show- 
ing her feet and ankles, with her husband 
in the room ! And Miss Ansell shuddered 
in her maiden propriety as she remembered 
the indelicate scene, and how bold her 
niece had been over it — not seeming one 
bit ashamed. Miss Ansell had known too 
well what was due to herself ever to visit 
such a house again ; but now that judg- 
ment had overtaken the offender, and 
the participator in her guilt, she felt 
it to be her Christian duty to offer a 
harbour of refuge to the child of her erring 
niece. 

But, if she found she had inherited the 
evil of her mother's nature, she must put 
it down at once with example and 
discipline. 

Kate Kerley had had a happy home 



•6 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

during the early years of her life. Her 
parents had presumed to love and to marry 
regardless of Aunt Ansell and all other 
opposing elements. So hardened were they 
in their iniquity that the hour of repent- 
ance never came to them. 

Mr. Kerley had worked hard as a City 
clerk, had generally managed to pay his way, 
but had found it impossible to save ; and 
they had died together. Had they lived, 
it would have been to learn of the smash 
of the house of business in which the 
husband was employed, and a City panic 
such as had not been known for fifty 
years. They might all have lived on three 
straws a day, and died a lingering death, 
and sunk, God knows how low ; but, as 
Miss Ansell said, and believed speedy judg- 
ment overtook them, and there was only 
one little waif and stray left to starve 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 



alone, and for lier '' Providence" had pro- 
vided a refuo^e in the heart and home of 
her great-aunt, Miss Maria Ansell — a pious 
Christian, and enlightened woman ! 

Kate Kerley sat watching at the window 
for the return of her parents, looking with 
wistful eyes down the street. Anything 
might have been made of that child. They 
were the only beings on earth who loved 
her, and whom she loved, and her face was 
lit up with an eagerness and softness that 
made her look beautiful. How manv lons^ 
years it will be before any one calls her 
beautiful again, however handsome they 
may think her ! The child had a fire burn- 
ing brightly in the grate, the kettle singing 
cheerily on the hob. Some crickets hopped 
about with their merry chirp. Everything 
within the room was neat and home-like, 
-although it was only a London lodging at 



THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

week ! The red curtains re- 
flected the leaping flames and cast a glow 
of warmth around. The tea-things had 
been spread on a neat white cloth by the 
loving little hands, and when everything 
was done, she seated herself at the window 
to watch. 

It was a long vigil. At first she took 
an interest in the passers-by, but as the 
evening wore on and darkness drew in, she 
grew anxious, and at nine o'clock the land- 
lady entered and seated herself without a 
word of permission. 

" Well, Miss Kerley, this is a queer 
piece of work. What's become of your pa 
and ma?" 

Kate, who had been too much absorbed 
to notice her entrance, here turned upon 
her two large frightened eyes — 

"What do you want, Mrs. Smart ?" 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 



" Lor' bless the child, the3^Ve missed 
their train. You needn't take on like that. 
Your ma said they was a going into the 
country somewheres." And, casting an 
approving eye around the room to note its 
neatness, Mrs. Smart discovered that Katey 
had had no tea — nothing since her dinner at 
one o'clock — and exclaimed, " Why, Miss 
Kerle}^ no wonder you look like a ghost ! 
Not one bit have you put between your 
lips since middle day, nor yet one drop 
neither, I'll warrant. And, bless the child 1 
if you haven't let the kettle boil dry and 
burn its bottom out ! Oh ! how careless 
gals is. Well, it ain't no concern of mine 
— your pa will have to pay for it, in course 
— but I'd have you more careful in future, 
in cause you see he's backward with his 
rent, which shows he ain't in a thriving 
condition." 



10 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

Kate's face flushed an angry red. " Say 
nothing against ray father, Mrs. Smart," she 
cried, witli an ominous tremble in her voice. 

" Well, youVe a temper of your own. 
Miss Kerley, certingly ! but you're not 
over wise to quarrel with your best friend, 
with five pounds owing for rent, and you 
deserted, as one might say, by your parents, 
for the Lord only knows whether they wdll 
come back or not !" 

A trembling seized upon Katey's limbs. 
Her parents not come back — her parents 
desert her ! It was with passion she 
trembled, and she turned her face, now 
set and pale, towards the landlady. 

"Gro! leave the room!" she cried, with 
a gesture of command that Mrs. Smart, 
middle-aged woman though she was, felt 
bound to obey in silence ; but when alone, 
she gave way to her indignation. 



TO BE, OK, NOT TO BE? 11 

" To be ordered about by a young minx 
like that 1 in one's own house, too ! Well, 
to be sure, things were come to a queer 
time of day ! If Mr. Kerley couldn't pay 
his rent, why, she would turn him out, bag 
and baggage ! Oh dear ! what a world it 
was, when honest folks was to be cheated 
"under their own roofs, and then be ordered 
about by a brat of fifteen !" 

And Mrs. Smart sat down to supper, and 
partook heartily of the sirloin of beef which 
Mr. and Mrs. Kerley had had for dinner the 
day before ; and handed a dry crust of bread 
and a glass of water to the small servant-of- 
all-work, who had never had food enough in 
her miserable life to grow upon. 

*' There, girl, have your supper; and be 
quick, for them Kerley s may come home 
any time. I wonder what they're up to, 
that they should be out at this hour of the 



12 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

night, wlien all respectable folks is at their 
suppers or family prayers afore they goes to 
their lawful beds ! But there's no being 
up to the ill ways of some people, and 
they'll have to walk if there's any more of 
these doings. Ten o'clock, and them not 
home, and all the things to clear away and 
wash up !" 

The Kerleys had been the solitary bright 
spot in the life of this hard-worked drudge 
— they had treated her as a human beings 
and she had improved in her own estimate 
of herself under their kind words. Make 
a man or a woman feel utterly lost and 
worthless, and what pleasure has he or 
she, what heart, to become anything else? 
None whatever; but will drift on with in- 
difference to the fact of their own depravity. 
On the other hand, teach a person that he 
is capable of good ; that, like others, he has. 



TO BE, OB, NOT TO BE? 13 

personal responsibility and a soul to be 
saved, and he will long to become some- 
thing higher, better. The motto of every 
human heart, whether acknowledged or un- 
acknowledged, is " Excelsior," though it 
may become deadened by sin to the know- 
ledge ; as a man may become drunk, who 
yet has a mind, and while drunk cannot 
feel the degradation of his position. 

To this poor little undersized drudge 
Mrs. Kerley's oft-spoken words of kindness 
were the first breaks in the dark clouds — 
the first blue patches in the sky; and she 
began to see there was something better in 
life than hard words, cross looks, the pocket- 
ing of stray pennies, telling lies to shield 
■herself, and making the eatables pay toll 
on the road. Susan would not now have 
shared that sirloin with Mrs. Smart evert 
if she had been invited to do so ; and when 



U THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

she heard of the possibility of the Kerleys 
being made to walk, she felt as she had 
never felt before. 

Brought up in the workhouse, Susan had 
been sent to service when a mere child — 
had been beaten, scolded, starved — hardened 
— it was years since she had cried, but 
human sympathy had at last come to her ; 
and if she was dry- eyed, there were tears 
in her voice and a lump in her throat 
as she pleaded for the lodgers with her 
mistress. 

"Oh, please mum, don't go for to turn 
them out, they /6' so kind to me." 

It was not an argument in their favour 
to Mrs. Smart, but it was the strongest one 
on earth to the poor girl ; and now the real 
tears began to flow, and Susan had a " good 
cry," which gave her relief, though it got 
her a scolding from her mistress. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 



" Bless the fool !" cried Mrs. Smart. 
'' What have you to liowl about, I should 
like to know. Haven't you got a good 
place, a good missus, and good victuals ? 
What more can any gal want, I should 
like to know ! Lor ! there's a ring at the 
bell. Mr. and Mrs. Kerley at this hour of 
the niglit, I'll warrant. I only hope they're 
sober ! but they needn't ring the house 
down, they needn't." 

Susan presently ran back into the room 
with an orange-coloured envelope in her 
hand, with a pale frightened face. 

" Oh ! missus, here's the telegraph come 
by a boy 1 something's 'appened, I know it 
has." 

How many wiser people feel sick at heart 
at the sight of a telegraph-boy entering 
their gates — have had cause to feel so from 
past sorrowful experience. Can they noi 



16 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

understand the feelings of this girl who 
had never handled one of these mysterious 
messages before — to her doubly mysterious 
and inexplicable — something " uncanny," 
in fact. She knew the message ran ever so 
quick all along the wires — from ever so far 
off' — all in a minute; but whether it was 
delivered at their end (written on pink 
paper and enclosed in a yellow envelope) 
by one of the ^^osts to the boy who 
brought it round, was still a puzzle to her, 
and the whole affair a terror. She 
w^atched with trembling, nervously clasping 
hands while Mrs. Smart read the message 
aloud. 

" To Mrs. Smart, 161, Staples Terrace. 
From the Station Master, Worham. — Terrible 
accident. Gentleman and lady killed. 
Supposed to be Mr. and Mrs. Kerley from 
letters in their pockets bearing your name 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 17 

and address. Please communicate with 
relations." 

" Well now," exclaimed Mrs. Smart, " this 
is sad ! and they owe me five pounds — dear,, 
dear, dear !" and she raised her fat hands 
with a deploring gesture and, lifted her eyes 
to heaven. "Dear, dear, dear! only to think 
ofthe judgments that do fall on some peo- 
ple — it is just like Korah, Dathan, and 
Abiram, a stor}^ as I'm very fond of,, 
Susan." 

Susan in the meantime had heard the 
news in a stupor. Her small mind required 
a long time to take in facts, and though 
she had heard the fatal words, they had not 
yet made themselves clear to her under* 
standing. 

" When are Mr. and Mrs. Kerley coming 
back, mum ?" she asked. 

" Why, never ! Bless the gal ! Do you 
VOL. I. 2 



18 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

think I'd 'ave two mangled corpses brought 
here ? Who do you think would ever 
take the apartments after such a horrible 
tradegy had took place in them?" 

It was dawning on Susan now. 

"Is Mr. and Mrs. Kerley the mangled 
-corpses, mum ? Oh, poor Miss Kate, poor 
Miss Kate ! what will become of her ?" 

Mrs. Smart was not of a forgiving dispo- 
isition, and Kate had ordered her out of the 
room. 

•'' Pride always comes before a fall," she 
•said, solemnly ; " Miss Kerley's has over- 
took her ! AVhat wdll become of her ? 
What's that to me ? This is Toosday — 
her week's up on Saturday, then she'll 

go." 

" But where mum ?" asked Susan. 

" Drat the gal ! What a fool you are, 
how should I know? There'll be things 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 19 

enougli to sell to pay the rent, and wliat- 
ever's left of course she'll 'ave. If she's 
got any friends (which I doubt) she'll go to 
them, or she'll go to the union, or any- 
where, it don't matter to me, then perhaps 
she'll learn not to turn honest folks 
out of their own room !" and Mrs. Smart 
arose in her righteous indignation to go 
and break the news to the poor orphan 
who was watching with weary, aching eyes 
for the parents she should never see again 
in life. 

Susan followed her mistress, and ventured 
to detain her by taking hold of her ample 
skirt. " Missus," she whispered, " tell it 
gentle, for the love of God !" 

And Mrs. Smart ascended on her mission 
of mercy ! What should Susan know of 
God ? Not much, certainly, but a few 
blessed words which Mrs. Kerley had told 

2—2 



20 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

her — the most precious to her being, " Grod 
is love y For His sake the girl pleaded with 
this woman for the child of her who had 
taught her this precious truth. 

But the words meant nothing to Mrs. 
Smart ; she had been a Christian woman all 
her life, and had no particular weakness for 
any especial texts like poor ignorant Susan, 
unless it might be a pleasure at hearing 
of the judgments that fell upon some 
who thought themselves better than their 
neighbours. 

" Tut, tut," she cried, " who's been put- 
ting such talk into your head, gal, I should 
like to know ? The love of God, indeed ! 
a great deal the likes of you should know 
about it." And she roughly shook off the 
detaining hand. 

Susan's heart misgave her as she watched 
the hard face go by and listened to the 
heavy determined tread of the landlady, and 



TO BE, (3E, NOT TO BE? 21 

after a few moments' hesitation she followed 
stealthily. 

Mrs. Kerley had told her it was wrong 
to listen at doors, and she had given it up, 
although it had been the chief amusement 
of her life — the one romance of her exis- 
tence ! But now surely God would know 
her motive, and forgive her ! and she crept 
close to the partly closed door, and watched 
through the crack. 

" Miss Kerley," said the harsh voice she 
knew so well — " Miss Kerley, here's a tele- 
gram to say that your Pa and Ma has met 
with a railway accident." 

Kate turned quickly, impatiently, upon 
finding Mrs. Smart in the room again, but 
when she had listened for a moment she 
became deadly pale. 

''Where, where are they?" she gasped, 
supporting herself against the back of a chair 
on which she leaned heavily. 



22 THE HAZELHUEST ]\ITSTEEY. 

" At Worham Station I suppose, that's 
where the telegram's come from." 

" I must go to them at once," cried the 
girl, '' I will hire an invalid carriage, and 
bring them home." 

" You must not bring them here. Miss 
Kerley, I'll have no mangled corpses in my 
hoTise I can assure you, and as for an invalid 
carriage why it wont make much difference 
to them now whether the springs are easy or 
whether there's none at all; and if you'll 
take my advice you'll take care of your 
money and settle your debts, and pay for 
the funeral honest, instead of running about 
the country." 

While she spoke heavy rings seemed to 
gather round Kate's eyes, and she looked 
at the woman with horror. She became 
livid, and her teeth were firmly set. 

" Grive me the telegram," she said cahnly, 



TO BE, on iS^OT TO BE? 23 

in so altered a voice that it was not to be 
recog-nised for her own. 

" You bear it well, I must saj, Miss 
Kerley," said the landlady, handing her 
the paper. 

Kate read it through silently, the only 
visible change in her face being the harden- 
ing lines about her mouth, and then she 
turned her eyes upon the other. 

" Did I understand you rightly, that you 
refuse to allow my parents to be brought 
here?" 

" You must not be offended, Miss Kerley, 
but it would ruin the apartments ; for if once 
lodgings gets a bad name they'll never let, 
I assure you. I don't know how you're left 
as regards money matters, but I can tell 
you that your Pa is in debt five pounds to 
me, so things couldn't have been very pros- 
perous with him." 



24 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

If Kate Kerley had been twenty instead 
of fifteen, and had known herself to be the 
possessor of a thousand a-year, she could not 
have shown better command of herself, or 
more dignity. 

" You shall be paid, Mrs. Smart ; when 
is my time up with you?" 

" Whenever you please, Miss," answered 
the woman, who would have bullied the 
€hild had she given way, but shrunk like a 
toward under her scornful glance. " When- 
ever you please. Miss, but the rooms was 
took on a Saturday." 

''Then on Saturday I will leave/' answered 
Kate. 

Mrs. Smart hesitated. She wanted to say 
she must have a week's notice or a week's 
rent, but she turned coward beneath the 
gaze with which Miss Kerley was regarding 
her. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 25 

" Have you anything more to say, Mrs. 
Smart ?" 

" No, Miss/' 

" Then go !" and this time the girl's 
attitude was still more commanding, the 
tone of her voice more coldly imperious, and 
Mrs. Smart slunk away, but with revenge 
in her heart. 

"You wait, Miss Kerley, and see if I don't 
make you pay for this. I didn't say any- 
thing about the week's rent, but you shall 
pay it, I can tell you." 

When Kate had watched her enemy off 
the field, she sank down on the floor by the 
fire — by the fire which with loving thoughts 
she had kept bright for the dear parents 
who would never now come back to her. 
They were dead ; how she wished that she 
were dead also, instead of being alone in 
the world. Do you, reader, realise what 



26 THE IIAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

she felt? Have you ever found yourself 
alone? — your life one large desolation ? If 
so, you can pity Kate Kerley as she sat with 
firm -set face and haggard eyes, gazing^ 
apparently at the fire, in reality at nothing. 
The worst of all forms of grief is silent, 
tearless grief Tears bring soft thoughts to 
the mourner, but this cruel form of sorrow 
brings nothing but intense agony to mind 
and body, and tempts the sufferer to be 
very wicked indeed. 

Bitterest feelings filled the heart of Kate 
Kerley. She had expended all the love of 
her strong nature upon her father and 
mother. There was not another being in 
the world she cared ever to see again; and 
now her parents were dead — cruelly killed 
in the prime of life — God had taken them 
from her — and she would never, never love 
Him again, never believe Him to be "a 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 27 



God of love," but as cruel, cruel, as He was 
powerful ; and she clasped her hands in 
defiance and rebellion against her Maker 
till the nails cut into the delicate flesh of 
the London-reared girl, who had never ran 
about in the sun and tanned them, or 
grimed them making "dirt pies,^' or working 
in her own small garden. As she sat, 
Susan crept into the room and knelt beside 
her. 

"Oh! Miss Kate, I am so sorry. I loved 
them both as well as you, and they were 
the first as ever give me a kind word ; and 
oh ! Miss Kate, your dear Ma used to tell 
me such lovely things about God. She told 
me never to forget that He loved me, and I 
never have forgot it," and Susan's honest 
tears fell thick and fast. 

"He does not love me, at any rate,'' 
cried Kate. 



28 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

Susan looked at her. " Miss Kate, if you 
could only think of them, poor dears, and 
cry a bit, it would do you a world of good." 

Kate shook her head. '' I shall never 
cry again, Susan ; I feel as if I had turned 
to stone. You mean kindly by coming to 
me, but let me be alone, 1 had rather be 
alone." 

Poor little Susan, chilled and repulsed, 
crept away, and with her went the only 
love, the only sympathy likely, as she 
thought, to cross the girl's path for many 
a weary day. Kate never attempted to go 
to bed, but sat where Susan had left her, 
looking at the blackened ruin in the grate 
without the faintest interest — a good repre- 
sentation of the life, hope, and happiness 
that had been so bright such a short time 
since. The lights grew dim, flickered, died 
out, and she continued to gaze on through 



TO BE, OE NOT TO BE? 29- 

the darkness, hour after hour, till the day 
dawned — till the sun rose and shone mock- 
ingly into the window with the blind still 
drawn up, as when she watched the night 
before for her parents to come home. Susan 
entered the room, and Kate started, and 
asked her the time. 

" Eight o'clock.'' 

It was time for her to go. Did Susan 
know where the station was for her to go to 
Worham. Susan, of course, didn't know at 
all, but would ask Mrs. Smart ; upon which 
Kate's eyes shot forth a dangerous light, 
and she forbade the girl to do so. She could 
find out for herself, and she did ; made all 
needful inquiries, and sold a gold locket and 
bought a ticket to Worham with the money, 
and went straight to the station-master 
with tlie telegram in her hand — her face 
deadly pale. The loving expression of her 



30 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

eyes, which had been her greatest beauty, 
had changed to one painful to behold, 
especially in a girl so young. It told of 
agony, hatred, defiance, impotent fury — like 
a wounded animal brought to bay, a dan- 
gerous sort of animal too ! 

The station-master was kind to her, and 
told her the bodies of her father and mother 
were at the " Grey Horse," and the inquest 
would be held that day. But he thought 
the best thing she could do was to go and 
see Dr. Grafton, who had attended to all 
those injured in the accident, and had 
examined the bodies of her parents. 

So Kate walked to the doctor's house and 
found him at home. He was going to the 
inquest, and she wanted to accompany him, 
but he would not hear of it. She passion- 
ately told him she would see the loved 
faces again, and ho promised she should do 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 31 

SO. He had sons and daughters of his own, 
nnd looked upon the poor girl with affec- 
tionate sympatliy and compassion. 

" Miss Kerley," he said, taking her hand 
in his, " will it pain you to talk to me and 
tell me where your nearest relations live, 
that I may communicate with them ?" 

" I have no relations, Dr. Grafton, and no 
friends," she answered, bitterly; "I must fight 
ray own way as my parents did before me." 
" But, my dear young lady, you are too 
young, and too handsome to be alone in the 
world." 

" Not at all," interrupted Kate ; "' if you 
could recommend me to any one as a 
nursery governess, I should thank you. If 
not, I will serve in a shop." 

'' But surely, Miss Kerley, your parents 
had friends who would be only too glad to 
receive you ?" 



32 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

"Dr. Grafton, my parents had not a 
friend in the world. They were poor, and 
committed the crime of marrying for love ! 
Who, after such a fault would stand by 
them, do you think ? — not their relations^ 
certainly. JN'o ; I have no friends, Dr. 
Grafton," said Kate, bitterly. " I cannot 
expect to be treated better by the world 
than my parents were before me." 

" Miss Kerley/' said the good old doctor, 
" I have a daughter about your age, and I 
should consider it ruin for lier to be cast 
adrift on the world now. Forgive me, 
my dear child, but for her sake I must be 
your friend. T have a large household; 
one more or less can make no diiFerence. 
You must remain here.'' 

Tears stood in Kate's eyes as she 
answered him, " You are more than kind 
Dr. Grafton, but it's impossible ; you are a 



TO BE, OR IS'OT TO BE? 33 

stranger to me, and I could not be a burthen 
on any one. Indeed, indeed, I appreciate 
your kindness, though I cannot accept it/'and 
she held out a death-cold hand to the man 
who wished to shield her from the world. 

" If you will excuse me a minute ; I shall 
not be long," said the doctor, and he left 
the room, returning soon after with a sweet 
motherly-looking, white-haired woman, who 
went over at once to Kate, and kissed her. 

" Miss Kerley, or shall I call you Kate, 
dear? my husband has told me all about 
it, and I cannot let you leave us to-day. 
No, don't make objections, unless there is 
any one else you would rather go to." 

" I have no one else," said Kate, humbly. 
" Thank you for calling me Kate ; I will 
stay to-day, please ! " 

And she did stay that day, and many 
other days too. Dr. and Mrs. Grafton soon 

VOL. I. 3 



34 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

learnt the story of Ler life from lier, such 
as there was to tell; and the former went 
up to London and paid Mrs. Smart out of 
his own pocket, and brought down to Kate 
all the things that had belonged to her 
parents, so that she had no further pain or 
trouble in the matter. Mrs. Grafton went 
with her when she looked her last upon 
the dear dead faces, grieving for the tearless, 
yet passionate agony of the gh'l whom she 
had taken into her kindly heart, and 
would fain have seen grieve as the child 
she was ; then Mrs. Grafton took her by 
the hand and led her back to her own 
home, and she obeyed like one in a dream. 
She did whatever she was told to do, was 
perfectly tractable, put on the mourning 
prepared for her, attended the funeral, and 
continued perfectly listless, looking with 
her large earnest eyes into vacancy, 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 35 

doubtless picturing tlie world into which 
those dear to her had passed, probably 
longing to be with them. 

A few days after the announcement of 
the accident in the papers, the rector of 
the parish received a letter from Miss 
Ansell, begging for all particulars concern- 
ing the death of Mr. and Mrs. Kerley, 
stating that the latter was her niece. He 
wrote at once and told her all that he knew 
upon the subject, including the arrival of 
Kate at Worliam, and her whereabouts. 
Upon which Miss Ansell of the flesh held a 
sharp conflict with her second self, who 
knew it to be her duty to offer a home to 
the orphan girl. Duty, as it always did 
with the good woman, got the upper hand, 
the flesh was ignominiously defeated, and 
Miss Ansell having overcome and slain 
temptation, sat on the extreme edge of her 

3—2 



•36 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



•chair as upright as a poplar for the rest of 
the day, her nose turned heavenwards, her 
eyes fixed far above the erring mortals of 
this world who succumbed to temptation. 
How she thanked Grod she was not as 
-others ! Can there be a doubt that He 
accepted her gratitude ? Certainly not. 
Miss Ansell, having decided to do her duty, 
wrote at once to Dr. Grafton, saying she 
would be ready to receive her great-niece 
the following week. 

Dr. and Mrs. Grafton felt sorry that a 
relation had turned up to claim Kate, as 
they thought she had more chance of for- 
getting her sorrow among young people 
than living alone with an old maiden grand- 
aunt, but Dr. Grafton made up his mind to 
pay Miss Ansell a visit, and went accor- 
dingly. 

She was more on the edge of her chair 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 37 

than ever ! She must have been freslk 
starched and ironed for the occasion, and 
well iced. The room was prim to a painful 
extent, the bell-pull cords were in holland 
covers, also the tassels of the window-blinds, 
the music-stool — the legs of the old- 
fashioned piano had on long holland trou- 
sers ! Miss Ansell would not allow such a 
demonstrative thing as a piano to remain in 
her room with naked legs ! No ! Not for 
the world. She, a Christian woman, knew 
what was due to herself and to decency, 
and so the well-grown instrument, six feet 
high at least, was taught decorum ! The 
seats of all the chairs were covered with 
holland, and the arms, a holland crumb- 
cloth was stretched over the carpet; the 
curtains, the carpet, the table-cloth, all were 
drab ! Miss Ansell looked upon colours as 
of the world, worldly, and not fit for 



38 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

the use of a godly woman, so her cot- 
tage was innocent of such incentives to 
vanity and other evils. " Jeremy Taylor," 
*' Daily Steps Heavenward," " How to Live," 
'' The Lake of Fire," " The Judgments of 
Sinners," and a few other choice books in 
the same style, were laid ostentatiously 
upon the drab table-cloth, and a heap of 
tracts upon a side-table, the top one bearing 
the enticing title of " The Shortest Eoad to 
Hell!" 

Dr. Grafton took in these details one by 
one, and dreaded the effect of such surround- 
ings upon the high-spirited, overwrought 
girl. Gentle treatment, cheerful society, 
and love might bring her round; what 
chance was there of any of the three here ? 
He looked at the hard face and felt sure 
that there would be but little love, but 
little happiness for poor Kate in her new 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 39 



life. Gladly would lie keep her if he could 
but arrange it with this only relation of 
poor Katie's. 

"Dr. Grafton, I presume," and Miss 
Ansell rose up like a lamp-post, as tall, or 
nearly so, and almost as thin, as if she had 
been suddenly straightened by machinery. 

The doctor, who was a small man, looked 
up at her with awe, and fell to wondering 
how a human body could be so totally with- 
out " ins and outs !" The semaphore 
raised an arm towards a chair some yards 
•off, and he meekly seated himself. Miss 
Ansell continued in a sepulchral voice — 

" You have come from Worham, I pre- 
sume T 

" Yes, madam, I have." 

" On the subject of my letter ?" 

" On the subject of your letter." 

"You have, of course, informed Miss 



40 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 



Kerley, my great-niece, that the Lord has. 
raised up a friend for lier in her affliction, 
even though her parents had gone astray ?" 

" Madam," interrupted the little doctor,. 
" we must deal lightly with the dead ; and 
if I am rightly informed, their error was 
their greatest blessing. Am I right, madam,, 
in believing that their only sin against 
the world was loving and being poor ?" 

Miss Ansell looked him down with her 
cold grey eyfts. 

" You look at it like a worldling, sir — I 
from the standpoint of duty, Mr. Kerley's 
parents objected to the match, my brother 
and his wife objected to the match, and / 
objected to it and to him. After that they 
chose the downward path of disobedience,, 
and they were married." 

" Was there anything against Mr. Ker- 
ley?" asked J)r. Grafton. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 41 

" Yes, lie Avas poor, and a City clerk — the 
son of a country doctor /" added tlie old 
lady, spitefully. 

" Dear, dear, I must have known little 
Katie's grandfather then when I was a 
boy !" and the good man smiled at the 
thrust Miss Ansell had made at his dignity. 

"Madam," he continued, "the sins you 
speak of are in my sight virtues : but if you 
fear any taint may have descended upon the 
daughter of such parents, I can only say I 
love the girl, let her live with me." 

Miss Ansell started as if she had been 
shot. 

" Sir, the impropriety of such a sugges- 
tion; I really — really " 

He looked at her gravely, even sternly. 

" The nicest people must have the nastiest 
ideas, Miss Ansell, if they can find the 
smallest impropriety in my suggestion. 



42 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Mrs. Grafton and my six children have 
received and will gladly retain Miss Kerley 
as one of ourselves," and the little doctor 
looked almost as dignified as Miss Ansell 
herself. 

" You mean well, sir, I have no doubt, 
but I hold to my opinion that there would 
be impropriety in Kate Kerley 's living 
under the roof of any man who is not a 
hlood relation, and as I am her nearest living 
relative, I shall not permit it. I hope I 
know my duty, Dr. Grafton." 

" And 3^ou consider that to be ?" he in- 
quired. 

" To take up the cross that has been sent 
to me, and receive my great-niece." 

The doctor sat silent for some time, and 
then said — 

" Kate is a very high-spirited girl, much 
•older than her age, with a large capacity 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 4S 

for loving or hating. I should say you 
might lead her, Miss Ansell, but you will 
never drive her." 

'' I have not the least doubt, sir, that I 
shall be able to manage a girl of fifteen — 
that must now be her age. Rest assured 
^he wont try rebellion twice in my house. 
I will do my duty by her, you may be 
certain." 

Dr. Grrafton rose with an impatient sigh. 

" When do you require Miss Kerley's 
presence here, madam ?" 

" I mentioned next week in my letter." 

" Yes, to be sure, but Kate really is not 
fit to travel at present." 

" Well, sir, you can write and inform me 
when she is, and when I may expect her. 
There are some tracts. Dr. Grafton, will you 
take one ?" 

" Thank you, no, madam ; I have not any 



44 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

wisli to learn a sliort cut to the lower 
regions ; I remark the title !" and Dr. 
Grafton got himself safely out of the room 
without stopping to see the effect of his 
parting shot. 

During Kate's stay at the Graftons, their 
eldest son, George, came from Ceylon. 
Havino^ amassed a lar^e fortune in the 
grow^th of coffee, he had returned home the 
happy possessor of forty thousand pounds, 
and fell straight away in love with the dark- 
eyed, grief-stricken young girl. George 
Grafton w^as of middle height, had about 
average talents, w^as moderately good-look- 
ing, had a manly square-shouldered figure, 
and hands that looked as if they had dared 
to work themselves even under a Ceylon 
sun ; but one thing George had far above 
the common average, and that was his heart. 
He was as honest and true a man as ever 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 45 



walked the earth. If that could gain a girl's 
love, George's domestic life should have run 
smoothly; but if outward graces are the 
things that chain a girl's affections, then 
Oeorge Grafton had but a poor chance of 
Kate Kerley's love. 

George blurted straight out from his 
honest heart to his father and mother the 
state of his feelings, and they heard him with 
mingled pleasure, sorrow, and amusement. 

What parents can be glad to know tliat 
they are no longer first in the affections of a 
child they have reared with such love and 
care ? Yet glad they felt that he should be 
happy, glad that poor forlorn Kate should 
have a protector in perspective. Of course 
she would love him ! Who could resist 
such a fine fellow as George ? The girl 
who got him for a husband would be 
fortunate indeed ! 



46 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

So thought Dr. and Mrs. Grafton of their 
first-born. But to him they spoke differ- 
ently. They said they would be very pleased 
to have Kate Kerley as a daughter, but she 
was far too young at present for George to 
speak of love to. He might think of her as 
much as he pleased, but for three years he 
must hold his peace. Katie was not at all 
likel}^ to find any other lover at her Aunt 
Maria's, so he might make himself quite 
happy about her. 

And Katie bid good-by to the friends 
who had been so kind to her in her trouble, 
and went to Northley to her new home. 
Miss Ansell and she had not met before, 
and the sfirrs heart sank as she crossed the 
room ; the good books still lay on the table, 
the tracts on the side- table, the top one 
pointing out the short cut to Hades as 
before, and Kate gave an involuntary 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 47 

shudder as she read the title, and thought 
life with her great-aunt must he the very 
shortest road there ! 

When she turned her head from the 
tracts, she saw her aunt had risen. The 
semaphore's arm was uplifted, and Kate 
was shaking hands with a skeleton, she 
thought. Everything superfluous Miss 
Ansell reckoned a sin, so she did with as 
little food as possible, and with as little 
flesh. She looked upon lovely women and 
rounded figures as the worst of all the deadly 
sins, traps to catch souls ! baits to tempt 
the weak and foolish to perdition ! 

She turned Kate to the light, and ex- 
amined her face. " One comfort is, you are 
not good-looking, Katherine." 

Katherine ! She had been called Kate or 
Katie all her life, and the formality struck 
with an extra chill on her ear, and yet she 



4S THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

felt almost glad that the name so often 
pronounced in loving tones by her mother's 
gentle voice should not be spoken by that 
harsh and cruel one. 

" You are too late for lunch, so I hope 
you are not hungry," remarked Miss Ansell. 
" I dine at five o'clock !" 

Kate had breakfasted at eight, and was 
blessed with a hearty appetite, and when 
she entered the house was very hungry 
indeed, but now she felt she did not 
care to eat : the hot, shut-up, close room, 
after the fresh March air, stifled her, and 
her heart had turned sick at the prospect of 
her future life. 

'' I — 1 am not hungry, thank you, aunt 

— Miss If you please, what am I to call 

you? 

" My name is Miss Ansell, Katharine." 

" Yes ! I know ; but I thought as you 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 41) 

were mamma's aunt, I ought to eall you 
aunty 

" I object to familiarity, Katherine." 

'' I understand you. Miss Ansell — you 
have received me out of charity," she cried, 
with flashing eyes, " not from love for my 
mother, as I supposed." 

" I received you, Katherine Kerley," said 
Miss Ansell, sternly, " because it was my 
duty — solely." 

Kate's teeth clenched very tight, her eyes 
glittered with a dangerous light, "Had I 
known this before, Miss Ansell, I would 
have begged my bread before I would have 
burthened you with my presence — T hate 
you already 1" 

"Have you read 'Jeremy Taylor'?" in- 
quired Miss Ansell. 

" No." 

" I thought not," she continued, ^' you 

VOL. I. 4 



50 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



must do so : you will not find such language 
in 'Jeremy Taylor,' I can assure you ; I was 
prepared to find you a trouble, Katherine, 
after the way you must have been brought 
up, with such examples always before your 
eyes as my niece and her husband." 

" Be silent," screamed Kate, her voice 
trembling with passion. "Do you learn 
from * Jeremy Taylor' to slander the dead ? 
If so, it is a wicked, wicked book, and I 
Avont read it. Say what you like to me. 
Miss Ansell, do what you like to me, I can 
bear it ; but never attempt to speak against 
my parents in my presence, or I shall be 
tempted to " 

" Pray proceed, Miss Kerley ! — if I choose 
in my own house to use my own tongue to 
express my own opinion upon my own niece, 
what will Miss Katherine Kerley be tempted 
to do ?" 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 51 

" To kill you !" replied Kate, in a tone of 
suppressed passion, her whole face distorted. 

"Hoighty toighty !" exclaimed Miss An- 
sell ; "who taught you tragedy, Miss Kerley? 
or have you heen reading ' Bow Bells ?' We 
shall soon understand each other better, I 
have no doubt ; I will answer for it in a 
month you will not dare to address me as 
you have just done. I cannot overlook it, 
but your punishment shall be light this 
time." She rose and took up the top tract, 
** Go to your room and read this through, 
and don't come down again until I send for 

you." 

At the word punishment, Kate's eyes had 
emitted a hyght — she was to be punished for 
standing up for her dead mother ! She took 
the tract from Miss Ansell's hand, and 
looked at the title, and then said, " A month 
with you will take me straight to the Gate, 

4—2 






62 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

you may be sure, by the shortest route," 
for which she received the soundest box on 
the ears that she had ever felt, and was taken 
by the shoulders and pushed outside the 
door. 

"War to the knife!" cried Kate, walkings 
straight to the small room which the servant 
had shown her as appointed for her use upon 
her arrival. She sat down by the window 
and looked out — there was nothing to be 
seen to cheer her — a kitchen garden hemmed 
in by a very high wall, nothing else. Yes, 
there was the sky ! how lovely it was ! the 
fleecy white clouds sailing so peacefully over 
the azure surface, it soothed her to look at it 
— it did her good — it made her think of her 
parents, especially her mother — her blue- 
eyed mother, with her soft white face. And 
Katie softened even to regret for havings 
spoken disrespectfully to her great- aunt. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 53 

^lie knew that even for Iter sake that blue- 
eyed mother up there in the bright sky 
would be sorry to see her give way to 
violence and evil temper. 

How well she remembered in the days 
now passed for ever, when she was naughty 
— one tender look, one gentle rebuke, would 
quell the rising devil in her heart, and she 
felt that Miss Ansell and her cold contempt 
were to her like a red rag to a mad bull. 
At ten minutes to five Miss Ansell walked, 
without knocking, infco the room. Kate, 
still gazing at the clouds with her head 
lying upon the sill of the open window, 
did not see her enter, and started at the 
harsh voice at her elbow. 

" What, Miss Kerley," gazing up into the 
skies as they did in the Scriptures !" 

" I was thinking of my mother," said 
Kate, softly ; and then turning to her great- 



64 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEKY. 

iiimt, she went on, *' I am sorry I was rude 
to you, Miss Ansell, it grieved mother even 
up there, I think," with a glance at the 
blue heavens. 

*'Don'ttalk romantic nonsense, Katherine. 
Your mother is dead ! what should she know 
about it ? Bo your duty as I have done jnme, 
and you wont find time for such fine sen- 
timents, I can assure you ; as to your sorrow, 
I shall judge of that by your future conduct; 
and now smooth your hair and come down 
to dinner." 

And Miss Ansell stalked out of the 
room, and Katie came back from the clouds, 
and from soft leelings to the stern realities^ 
of life. 

When Sunday came round, Miss Ansell 
was, if possible, stifFer and more firm than 
ever. 

Kate was waiting (according to orders) 



TO BE, OR :N'0T to BE ? 55 

lialf-an-liour too early, dressed for churcli — 
her pale face in relief against her black 
dress, black hat, and long flowing dark hair, 
when Miss Ansell came in and looked at 
her. 

" You don't look respectable, Miss Ker- 
ley," she said, slowly. 

Kate raised her eyes, but made no answer. 

" Can yon plait in three, Katherine," she 
continued. 

'' Yes, Miss Ansell." 

" Then go to your room and put up all 
that untidy mass of hair as quickly as you 
can, into the smallest compass possible. I 
should have thought you would have had the 
decency to have done it without being told." 

Kate left the room without one word, and 
returned metamorphosed — the child seemed 
to have turned into a woman all at once 
— the large dark eyes looked larger and 



56 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

darker, and the brushed-back hair showed 
the intellectual brow — the chin and mouth 
seemed more than ever determined. 

Kate re-entered the room as if nothing had 
happened. The turning up of a girl's hair 
is, as it were, a landmark in her life, and she 
had been hurried past it with unkindly haste. 
She had had no pleasant half hour before 
her glass to try what style suited her best, 
but had found putting up her hair a stern 
reality of life ! it was to be done in the 
smallest possible compass. 

If Miss Ansell had studied the question 
deeply, and had wished her niece to look her 
very best, she could have given no better 
advice, for Kate's was a small, well shaped 
head, and the close coils of unpretentious 
plaits took nothing from its classical beauty, 
and discovered the swan-like neck which 
Ixad hitherto been hidden behind the curtain 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 



of her dark locks. On the whole Kate Ker- 
ley had no reason to regret her aunt's dislike 
to her " untidy mass of hair/' in making her 
£rst appearance at Northley Church. 

The service was a very prosy one, and 
Kate loved music — loved the painted glass, 
mellowingthe light around her — loved every- 
thing that was beautiful, in fact wanted her 
senses appealed to by cross, candlesticks, and 
flowers. 

At Northley Church there was nothing 
to fix her attention — a barn- shaped old 
building, whitewashed inside throughout — 
a very tall pulpit of dark wood, with a sound- 
ing-board hanging overhead which looked 
onade to fit down into the pulpit, and Kate 
kept thinking what fun it would be to shut 
the old parson up in it, and laughed aloud 
at the idea of the noise he would make to 
be let out ! an old square box for a reading 



58 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 



desk, with another smaller box for the clerk, 
who with deadly nasal twang gave out the 
hymns and did his other duties manfully. 

What could Kate find to interest her in 
such a service, accustomed as she had been 
to " St. Alban's " and " All Saints'." But 
it was not long before she found that there 
was a great deal to amuse her. In front 
of her in a seat close to the pulpit, almost 
under it, sat a boy who was affected in his 
head. " Foolish Tom " they called him in 
the vihage. " Tom " had his wits and 
hadn't ! he was not bad enough to shut up 
in an asylum, but he spoke a language only 
understood by his mother — a sj)ecies of 
bellow and grimace ex]}ressing all he had to 
say. Tom never missed " saying his 
prayers " night and morning, but to whom 
they were addressed God only knows ! 
Whether there was a glimmer of a higher 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 59 



life in the idiotic brain, it is impossible to 
say, or whether he was merely a creature of 
imitation. " Tom " always came to church 
and always sat in the same place, held a 
prayer-book invariably upside down, turned 
over the leaves when the parson did, sang in 
his own fashion, without any words or the 
faintest tune, and made a mumbling, gurgling 
sound when the people responded. When 
there were only familiar faces in the church, 
Tom behaved himself fairly, but he could 
notresistthe pleasure of surprising strangers; 
and Kate Kerley was not an exception to 
the rule. He began by making the most 
hideous grimaces at her, and the more man- 
fully she endeavoured to withstand the 
temptation to laugh, the worse he became. 
She tried not to look at him — not to think 
of him — but it was a horrible fascination, 
and her eyes kept wandering back to him. 



60 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



This continued for some time, and he went 
through his usual catalogue of peculiarities, 
and then, not feeling satisfied with his suc- 
cess, he hit upon a new and brilliant plan. 
Tom took off his boots and put them upon 
the book rail of the nearest pew, then his 
€oat was removed. Kate was crimson with 
suppressed laughter and disgust, but unable 
to take her eyes off " Tom." What would 
liappen next ? she thought, when the 
droning voice of the parson ceased, and in 
its stead a sharp excited exclamation pro- 
ceeded from the old pastor, " Jones, Jones ! 
take Tom out of church!" Upon which 
the clerk slid out of his box and coHared 
Tom, and essayed to remove him ; but he 
was afraid of losing his property, which he 
had spread out neatly all along the front pew 
of the church, and a fearful struggle ensued, 
in which Tom had decidedly the best of it. 



TO BE, OR :N'0T to BE? 61: 

and the " honest sweat '' stood upon, and 
dropped from the brow of poor old Jones — 
the clerk, beadle, sexton, pew-opener, town- 
crier, and general factotum of North ley. 
However, Tom, having secured every item 
of his belongings, one by one, at last went 
away like a lamb down the aisle, Mr. Jones 
holding on tightly behind, and as he passed 
Kate lie gave her a final grimace worthy of 
Hengler's best clown ! 

" Let us pray," said the parson's droning 
voice, as Tom's footsteps became faint in 
the distance, and Kate hid her face in her 
handkerchief, and gave way to soundless 
laughter ; but Miss Ansell, who had never 
moved a muscle of her face during the whole 
scene, gave such a virtuous tug at the 
skirts of her dress that Kate heard the 
gathers crack ! The clerk resumed his 
place, wiped his forehead on a red pocket^ 



<52 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

handkercliief, with yellow spots, and showed 
signs of great exhaustion. 

Mr. Cotter, the clergyman, was a tee- 
totaller, and believed in water ; on it he had 
flourished seventy-five years — so he told 
his parishioners — and you never saw him 
without a carafe and tumbler by his side. 
On noticing Mr. Jones's fatigue he handed 
him down the tumbler filled with his 
favourite beverage, but the hot and tired 
clerk at first failed to notice the movement 
till recalled by Mr. Cotter, who said in a 
stage whisper, which w^as audible to the 
whole congregation, " Jones, drink some 
w^ater, man !" He started up, and gulped 
some down at once, but Mr. Jones was not 
fond of water. Like " Meinherr van Dunk,'* 
he liked his brandy with as little water as 
possible, when the vicar was not in sight ; 
and like the same renowned foreigner Mr. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 63 

Jones had never been drunk in his life ! — so 
he said ; but, as he plaintively remarked, 
" Digging graves all weathers was dreary 
work, and a sexton was a man who must 
keep his spirits up !" 

Mr. Jones took up the responses, and the 
service proceeded quietly until the sermon 
began. 

Mr. Cotter had been ill, and it was his 
first reappearance in public. He gave out 
his text upon the recovery of Hezekiah, 
and then looked round the church with a 
comical benignant smile. 

"Well, my beloved flock," said Mr. 
Cotter, " you see the Lord has raised me 
up, and here I am again 1 You all tiiought 
I was going to die, now didn't you ? and 1 
daresa}'' that you were wondering who the 
new parson would be, and now I've disap- 
pointed you, my boys, and there's a kick 



64 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

left in old Jack Cotter still, I can tell 
you. 

Kate's eyes opened very wide. Here was 
something new in the shape of a sermon, 
and she thought it was great fun, if only 
they had opened the church windows or 
doors ; but it was so awfully hot and 
close, and the sun was pouring in at the 
diamond-paned window, casting its burning 
rays upon her till she began to wonder 
whether her dress would catch fire ! and she 
had not been listening long, or rather 
trying to listen to the sermon, when her 
attention was aroused by a scufiling in a pew 
not far off. A woman had been unable to 
stand the heat of the sun, and had fainted, 
and several ])eople were pulling her about — 
untying her bonnet strings, loosening her 
collar, &c. &c. 

" Jones !" called out Mr. Cotter from the 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 65- 

pulpit ; *' water — give her water !" and IVTr. 
Jones again slid down, tumbler in hand, and 
doing, doubtless, as he would be done by,, 
held the same meekly under her nose ! 

" Give her some to drink, you fool,'*' 
called out Mr. Cotter, sharply. " Throw it 
over her !" Upon which, remembering her 
new Sunday bonnet, she recovered, and 
Mr. Cotter proceeded with an eulogium 
upon the effects of water, which elicited a 
broad grin from a boy called Jim Sharp, for 
which Mr. Cotter thought it necessary to 
reprove him. " I saw you laugh, Jim 
Sharp," he said ; " you'll go to the devil as 
sure as I catch that bluebottle ! By Jove, 
I've missed him — there's a chance for you 
yet, Jim." 

There was a great deal of good in 
Mr. Cotter's sermon, and it was much 
more sublime than ridiculous. There is 

VOL. I. 5 



66 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

doubtless good in every sermon that ever 
was written or preached, but such is human 
nature that Kate failed to carry home with 
her any of it but the above quotation from 
the whole of his long discourse. 

Miss Ansell, like any other Christian, 
dined at one on Sundays, so as to let her 
servant go to church in the afternoon and 
evening ; but it is doubtful if she went, or 
if servants ever do go after the martyrdom 
and indigestion that most masters and mis- 
tresses go through to enable them to do so. 
If going without an egg in Lent for break- 
fast will get a soul out of purgatory, as 
has been averred, surely these masters and 
mistresses will have crowns of glory for all 
they suffer after their early Sunday dinners ! 
But Kate's healthy frame knew nothing of 
dyspepsia, and she had succeeded in eating 
a large slice of the raw-looking boiled leg of 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 67 

mutton without ill effects. She was strong 
in mind and body, and was nothing daunted 
even by Miss Ansell's unpalatable dinners. 
This especial meal over, she followed her 
great-aunt solemnly into the drab and 
brown holland drawing-room, where the 
window was never opened, and was given 
" Jeremy Taylor" to read. For an hour poor 
Kate yawned over it behind the book, but 
never got beyond the first page. She kept 
beginning again and again, and finding 
there were no points to carry away, as it had 
been with Mr. Cotter's sermon. 

At last Miss Ansell having finished her 
tract, over which she had uttered many 
righteous groans, fixed her cold stern eyes, 
on her great-niece, " Katherine, come and 
say your collect, epistle, and gospel !" 

" I — I — I didn't know you expected me 
— I haven't learnt them," she stammered. 

5—2 



68 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

" Say your liymn and Catechism, then." 

" I haven't learnt any hymn !" 

Miss An sell looked unutterable things. 
" Katherine Kerley, did your mother spend 
Sunday as a heathen ?" 

Kate's eyes flashed, but she made no reply. 

"Say your Catechism," went on Miss 
Ansell. 

'Now Kate never could say her Catechism ; 
it was a mental defect, or perhaps it did not 
interest her, but she never said it perfectly 
in her life. The Nicene Creed was a slough 
of despond to her ; " I desire," a maze from 
which she could find no exit. Her chief 
idea of the Commandments, and the one she 
never forgot, was the fifth, for she could, 
and did, heartily honour her father and 
mother. So when she was told to say her 
Catechism, she coloured very red, and sat 
stilL 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 



" What ! lias not your mother taught it 
to you ?" thundered her great-aunt. 

"Yes," said Kate, "she did; but I've 
forgotten it." 

" Katherine Kerley ! you are stiff-necked ; 
1 don't believe any girl of your age can fail 
to know the Lord's Commandments ; say 
them at once !" 

First, second, third, fourth, fifth, so far 
Kate got without a fault, scrambled on to 
the ninth and through it, but not coi- 
rectly. 

" The tenth ?" 

" I forget," said Kate ; " what's it about, 
^liss Ansell ? Oh ! I know. Covetousness. 
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, 
thou shalt not covet " 

" Stop !" cried Miss Ansell. 

" It is not wrong," said Kate. " I know 
it quite well. Thou shalt not covet thy 



70 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

neighbour's wife, thou shalt not covet thy 
neighbour's house " 

^' Wrong !" said her aunt, sternly. " I told 
you before it was wrong." 

" Well, what is it, Miss Ansell ?" 

"The first clause ends with house, the 
second with wife." 

" Then it's no business to be so," cried 
Kate. " The wife ought to be first ; a man 
has no right to think more of his house 
than of his wife, and it ought to be altered," 
and Kate sat down with a determination to 
do no more. 

" Katherine !" proceeded Miss Ansell, " it 
seems to me you are both ignorant and 
impudent ; the latter is doubtless the con- 
sequence of the former, and I shall make it 
my serious and solemn duty to teach you 
better. Explain to me what you read out 
of ' Jeremy Taylor this afternoon." 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 71 

"I can't; I don't think I read it at all.. 
I certainly didn't understand any of it!" 

Miss An sell groaned. 

"I knew you would be a heavy cross, 
Miss Kerley, but I never expected you 
to be as bad as you are. Most people 
have some redeeming point, even your 
mother " 

" Miss Ansell !" cried Kate, bounding 
from her chair, "leave my mother at 
peace in her grave ; if you regret your 
charity to me I will go back to Dr. Grafton." 

" ' He that putteth his hand to the plough 

and turneth back ' " said Miss Ansell, 

solemnly; but the arrival of the tea-tray 
broke the text in halves ; and Kate con- 
soled herself for the loss of the rest with a 
plentiful supply of bread and butter — while 
•her aunt watched it disappear with dismay, 
and made a mental calculation of what an 



72 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

extra quartern loaf at sevenpence a-daj 
would add up to out of her slender yearly 
income. After tea she got a pen and 
ink and wrote some time in silence. 
" Katherine," she said, raising the written 
paper, *' after the life you have led you 
must have rules and regulations to attend 
to for each hour of the six days of the week, 
and others for the seventh. I have written 
them foryou and expect you to act up to them." 
Kate had thought her mother's sweet, 
unobtrusive religion beautiful; but the 
Pharisaical life of her great-aunt, with the 
tithes of even her nail-parings and orange 
rinds, disgusted her beyond measure ; with 
her duty standard always set up to measure 
her neighbours by, and her tongue sharp- 
ened to condemn the erring — if this were 
religion, Kate hoped fervently that she 
should never be religious. 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? 73 

And so her life went on for three long 
years. 

She studied with her aunt, who was a 
well-informed old woman. The amount of 
scripture history that was crammed into 
Kate's small cranium was wonderful ; but 
all things must come to an end. So did 
Kate's lessons, and she was promoted to 
be a Sunday-school teacher and a district 
visitor ! 

Strange to say, with all her irreligion, 
Kate took pleasure in both these occu- 
pations, and fulfilled them well ; and some 
of the hard lines would go from her face 
when the little ones of her class brought 
their Sunday offerings of flowers from their 
•own especial gardens. Eain over head, wet 
under foot, nothing kept Kate from the 
school, nor from the cottages ; and now she 
-sat in her own room, looking out of her 



74 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

window, reading her first love-letter ! As 
usual, lier face softened under its gentle 
influence as she gazed at the sky, and she 
felt she did not love George Grafton as her 
mother had loved her father ; and for five 
minutes she determined to say ''No," to 
write at once and say so, and she left the 
window and sat down to her little desk and 
began " My," and then felt uncertain how 
to go on. If she were going to refuse him 
she couldn't put " My '"' at all, for he would 
not be iiers. After all, why should she 
refuse him? he was good, not ugly; rich, 
he loved her : and above all, he would 
deliver her out of the hands of Miss Ansell ! 
her life of poverty would be exchanged for 
one of plenty and happiness. Why should 
she not be happy with George Grafton ? 
He had the means of satisfying her smallest 
wish, her lightest whim ; and she would see 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 75 

the world and all tlie beautiful things it 
contained ; go to dances, have horses, car- 
riages and handsome dresses ; no more raw, 
boiled mutton, but would be able to order 
all the things she liked best. Ah ! how she 
wished these good things had come to her 
in the days when her father and mother 
had been alive. What joy to have given 
them handsome presents, just what she 
knew they required most ! Now, Dr. and 
Mrs. Grafton would be her parents. Well, 
next to her own, she cared more for them 
than for any one else in the world, even 
better than George, though she was now 
contemplating becoming " bone of his bone, 
and flesh of his flesh." 

After a while, Kate left the " My" and 
accepted the ofler, without so much as con- 
sulting Miss Ansell. 

The first that that good woman knew 



76 THE HJ^ZELHURST MYSTERY. 

upon the subject was the announcement of 
" Mr. George Grafton" by the astonished 
little maid-of-all-work, who had grown old in 
Miss Ansell's service, and was her right hand, 
or both her hands, if that expresses more. 

Kate was not prepared for this visit, and 
her flushed cheeks and downcast eyes might 
well make the happy man think himself 
beloved. Alas ! poor George. 

Miss Ansel 1 was, of course, very angry 
with everybody; nothing could excuse Kate's 
deception and ingratitude, to say nothing 
of her immodesty in having accepted a 
young man she knew nothing of, without 
the advice and sanction of her natural 
protector. George was a most unprincipled 
young man, for tempting her to do wrong — 
at her age, too, a child, nothing but a child ; 
and, truth to tell, though Miss Ansell had 
never got really fond of Kate, she loved to 



TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ? 17 

bully lier, and was aware that she should 
miss her. 

Miss An sell was getting old, and Kate 
did her needlework, kept her accounts, ran 
her errands, &c. &c. ; and though Miss 
Ansell still called her " her cross," she was 
a very useful one indeed. But Miss Ansell 
knew the value of " loaves and fishes," and 
was proud in all ways but one. If you 
offered Miss Ansell anything little worth 
having she would refuse it with very erect 
head ; but if it happened to be of value, she 
always found a " text " to bear her out in 
accepting it — and now she thought how 
blessed Kate would find it to repay her 
dear aunt for all her kindness and affection. 
Forty thousand pounds made George's 
principles quite different in Miss An sell's 
eyes, and she forgave them both, giving 
them her blessing. 



CHAPTER II. 




FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 

OT all her hopes of future benefits — 
not all Greorge Grafton's entreaties 
— not all her Christian forgiveness 
could induce Miss An sell to allow him to 
remain for the night under her roof She 
never had allowed a man to sleep in her 
house, and never w^ould ; so after five o'clock 
dinner he had to take himself off home, so 
as to arrive at midnight — poor old Greorge ! 
His heart was light, and the miles flew 
by without his noticing the lapse of time 
and space, as he sat looking out into the 
darkening night, building his airy castles 
— the bower for his queen — the home for 
his young wife. It should be such a bright 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 79 

one ! for his little Kate — little Kate of five 
feet eight — as tall as himself nearly ; he was 
•an inch taller perhaps, but she looked to 
have the advantage. 

When he had got into the train the sun 
was shining on his love, on his thoughts, 
•on his fancied home with its beauty of 
summer shade and winter warmth. How 
well he could picture the rooms, the flowers 
and birds, and Kate there always, and 
perhaps as time wore on little faces up- 
turned to his with rosy lips asking for kisses, 
little arms stretched out in welcom,e — 
Katie's children ! all with her large dark eyes! 

George awoke to the present with a 
shriek from the engine, as if some evil 
spirit mocked him ! with cruel mockery of 
his rose-hued visions. 

" Worham, Worham," called the sleepy 
station-master. 



80 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

"Worliam, Worham," echoed the still 
more sleepy porters. 

"Grood night to you, Mr. George — any 
luggage ?" 

"No, thank you. Good night;" and 
with hasty, hopeful strides Mr. George 
Grafton turns towards his father's house, 
regardless of the cabman's pathetic "Cab, 
sir," as that disconsolate being discovers 
that after waiting with his jaded horse for 
the last train to come in, he has not got 
a fare, so he administers a cut to the poor 
brute to vent his temper, and a damnatory 
clause to the world in general, the travellers 
by last trains in particular, and gallops his 
wretched " gee " up a steep hill to his stable, 
where he arrives with heaving flanks and 
painfully distended nostrils, and lies all 
night un groomed in a cold sweat ! Poor 
horses ! Oh ! that the patient, faithful 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 81 

creatures liad better treatment. Any one 
who can ill-use a liorse or a dog is worse 
than he who will injure his fellow-man. 
Watch the expression of a horse's eyes — 
a worn-out suifering horse, and say if the 
bitterest tears on a human face ever told 
such a tale ! Watch the dog who has just 
received a brutal kick from his master, and 
mark the agony of his feelings ; his eyes 
would tell of a suffering spirit, not merely 
of bodily pain. This is a word in favour 
of " dumb brutes." It is cowardly to 
hurt them, they dare not return the 
injury, few would, if they could, and they 
cannot tell you what they suffer. 

Greorge Grafton's marriage was fixed for 
the following August, only two months and 
he would be a Benedict ! which thought 
made him eager to prepare the home he 
had pictured for Kate. 

VOL. I. 6 



82 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

At Hazelhiirst, about twelve miles from 
London, lie found a beautiful detached 
cottage ornee, standing in an old well- 
grown garden, very different from the new 
laurel-bound plots of the present villa resi- 
dences. Deodoras, mountain ash, ever- 
green oaks, elder trees in full bloom, bright 
double red hawthorn, and single white, 
" flourishing green baytrees," showing you 
that they are not a biblical fiction ; guelder 
roses, laburnam, lilac, rhododendron in glo- 
rious pyramids, roses in standards, honey- 
suckle, clematis both purple and white 
climbed every where, white noisette, banksia, 
Marshal Ney^s, and " gloires" clothed every 
wall and verandah 1 

This was a fit home for his wife, even 
George allowed, and set to work at once 
to furnish as he thought she would Hke 
it. Carpets of rich warm shades — none too 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 83 

bright — crimson or amber hangings of cost- 
liest materials to suit Kate's dark beauty ; 
black and gold furniture for her drawing- 
room, oak for the dining-room, and walnut 
for the third sitting-room. The conserva- 
tory, which opened out of the drawing-room, 
was a glory of bloom, and George looked 
round well pleased at it all, and thought 
that Kate could not fail to be happy here. 

With George Grafton's fortune he need 
no longer work, but after due deliberation 
he made up his mind that idleness was 
good for no man, and especially for one of 
his age and active temperament ; so he 
decided to go on with his business, the 
coffee trade, in the great city, which he 
could easily do from Hazelhurst. 

Just before his marriage he ran against 
an old college chum whom he had not seen 
for years, the pleasure of the meeting was 

6—2 



84 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

mutual, and George told him a hearty 
welcome would await him at Hazelhurst, 
and made him promise to come down. 

Harry Cartland bad been wild in his early 
days, but most young fellows sow their 
"wild oats" before they settle down into 
sbaid bachelors or Benedicts ; and Greorge 
had no qualms of conscience in bringing 
him into contact with his young wife. 
Harry Cartland, so far as intellect and 
appearance went, outshone his friend 
thoroughly, but he was of a selfish, pleasure- 
loving disposition. If Cartland set his 
mind on anything, small or great, good 
•or bad, he did it. Self-gratification was his 
law, and he acted well up to it. He was 
tall, over six feet in height, with a natural 
unstudied grace which never deserted him ; 
olive skinned, dark haired, dark eyed, with 
a heavy falling dark moustache hiding his 



FOR BETTER, FOE, WORSE. 



mouth, had it been visible it was a well- 
shaped, though sensual mouth, with white 
square- cut teeth. The face, as a lace, was 
jDcrfect, undeniably handsome, and he was 
always well-dressed. He left College with 
George Grafton, and " saw life " in London 
for awhile, running through what small: 
fortune he possessed. He was not bur- 
thened with relations, or good advisers. 
Harry Cartland was his own master, and in 
three years found it would be necessary for 
him to earn his own living, and having a 
friend, a London doctor, he made up his 
mind to be a medical man himself. 

Want of brains was not one of Harry 
Cartland's faults, and he passed his exami- 
nation creditably, and set up as a physician 
in the " West End." Ho soon became " the 
fashion." He knew exactly how to please 
his lady patients, how to inl:ise into his 



«6 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

voice tender sympathy, to touch them 
gently with his white, well-formed hands ; 
he knew even when to glitter the diamond 
ring upon his little finger, when to flash 
looks of interest from his handsome dark 
eyes, looks of pity, looks of congratula- 
tion, looks of affection. Ladies like their 
doctors to be kind, affectionate, and gentle, 
and Dr. Cartland knew the exact amount to 
administer to each. He never overdosed 
them, never sent them away dissatisfied; 
ladies' feelings were even more his study 
than medicine. He found sympathy a 
better tonic than quinine. But with all 
his tenderness of manner he was so far 
heartwhole ; if he made love at all it was to 
advance himself in his profession. He 
knew that Lady Henrietta de Courcy would 
tell Lady Jane VVilloughby how charming 
he waS; how clever, how kind, how sympa- 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 87 

tlietic, and such a perfect gentleman! and 
he was equally aware that Lady Jane would 
turn up before the week was out, and that 
she would tell her friend Mrs. de Jones 
Smith how miraculously he had cured her 
neuralgia ! and if he could do that he could 
do anything ! 

So Dr. Cartland prospered, and became a 
great man, and a rich one, and those who 
wished to consult him had to make an 
appointment at least a week beforehand. 
His patients were often kept a fortnight 
waiting for advice, but then you know, " his 
time was not his own." He was so very 
busy — so much sought after ! 

August was not long in coming round, 
bright, warm, glowing August, and with it 
came Kate's wedding-day. Miss Ansell did 
her duty to her great- niece to the last. Kate 
was married from her house. She even gave 



88 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEHY. 

a wedding-breakfast, such as it was. The 
under-done mutton was exchanged for a 
sodden ham, an old cock was slaughtered 
for the festive occasion, a pie, with crust two 
inches thick, also graced the table, but no 
one ever ventured to look what was inside ! 
Of buns, and tarts, and " fingers," there were 
enough for a charity-feast, apples, oranges, 
very pithy and juiceless in obedience to the 
season, and really nice fruit from the walled- 
in garden at the back of the house, and two 
decanters of Marsala ! Had not Miss Ansell,. 
indeed, done her duty ? 

Everybody at Northley went to see the 
wedding, even " Silly Tom." The day w^as 
line, but Kate saw with superstitious awe 
that they had to pass by an open grave ! 
She had wished for a quiet wedding, and 
she had it. Only members of the Grrafton 
family were present at the breakfast, except 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 89 

George's best man, Dr. Cartland, and he was 
the life and soul of the breakfast. He 
laughed, told stories, made jokes, won golden 
opinions, and even flirted witli Miss Ansel]. 
Who could be offended with him? His 
manners were perfect, so thought Laura 
Grrafton, Kate's oldest bridesmaid, and so 
thought Kate herself. Are not all wedding- 
breakfasts too wearily alike to attempt to 
describe? There were, of course, speeches 
in which the health of everybody was drank, 
and George Grafton, with new-born impor- 
tance and dignity, returned thanks for 
himself and Ins wife. No single man, no 
older married man, can handle the word in 
the same way. Did any one ever hear a 
man speak of his loife in the same tone after 
he brings her back from the honeymoon ? 

George took his bride through Switzerland. 
She did most of the sight- seeing on horse- 



90 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

back — he, vvalkino- bv her side — and Kate 
was delighted. She had never been out of 
England before, and felt a thrill of ecstasy 
at the sight of Mont Blanc, at the Lake of 
Geneva, at all the blue mountains, and 
picturesque soft scenery, and at the end of a 
happy month they returned to England, and 
took possession of their pretty home. 

And Kate had to confess that her hus- 
band's taste had been perfect in his choice 
of everything ; even the Victoria that 
stood at the station, waiting for her, with 
two shiny bays with black points, who were 
pawing the ground in their impatience to 
carry Mrs. George Grafton home. But 
Katie, looking in her husband's face, knew 
still that she did not love him as she ought 
to do, though she believed she could be quite 
as happy as the passive agent in the verb to 
love, and was glad that she had married him 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 91 

They were not long settling down in 
their new home, and visitors poured in on 
Katie. Little as she had seen of society, 
she received them with natural grace and 
good-hreeding. 

Among the callers came Dr. Cartland, 
rather later than the rest, after his work, 
and George arrived from town before he had 
been there long, and kept him to dinner; 
after which they spent the lovely September 
evening in the garden. 

Kate, dressed in a pure white muslin, 
with a crimson rose at her breast, and 
another in the wealth of her dark hair, 
looked even lovelier than she had done on 
her bridal-day. So thought George, and in 
Dr. Cartland's eyes she was the only hand- 
some woman he had ever seen in his life. 
As he looked at her, he was bound to 
acknowledge there was something wanting 



92 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

in her face ; and after a while he found out 
what it was, not then, not till long after ; 
but the face, as it was, fascinated him more- 
than any had ever done before. He had 
seen prettier women, lovelier women, pink 
and white, creamy milky-faced women ; but 
what were they compared to Mrs. Grrafton, 
with her wistful brown eves, in which were 
such untold depths, unknown even to her- 
self. Her clear dark complexion, her perfect 
lissom figure. 

Dr. Cartland watched her with the painful 
knowledge gathering about his heart that he 
was, for the lirst time in his life, in love — 
in love with a girl he had seen but twice — in 
love with his friend's wife. Of course, as a 
man of honour, he was bound to keep away 
from Hazelhurst, and, of course, as a man of 
the world, he didn't. Who ever knew a moth 
to fly away from a candle because it would 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 93 

singe his wings ? Who ever knew a selfish 
pleasure-seeking man forego the happiness 
of the moment for the good of the future ? 

No ! Dr. Cartland smiled upon his patients 
till three o'clock; then, his arduous duties 
over, he threw himself into his well-lined 
brougham, with one word only, '' Hazel- 
hurst." Not to make love to Mrs. Grafton, 
but to see her, touch her hand, inhale lier 
beauty with every breath. 

Had Harry Cartland spoken, or even 
looked love at Kate, it would have been her 
salvation; but he did neither. He only 
loved her, none the less madlj^ because he 
was silent. Had you asked him, or had he 
•asked himself how he expected it all to end, 
he would have been unable to answer. 
But, doubtless, he lived in the present only, 
■and trusted to the future to take care of 
itself. He had not once told himself that 



94, THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEHY. 

he could gain Kate's love, she was still his 
friend's wife to him ! But to be near 
her, with her, was necessary to him. So 
long as he was satisfied in this, he need not 
be dangerous, except perhaps to Kate's 
inner heart. He would not while thus 
satisfied seek any change. 

Winter evenings saw the college friends 
smoking their pipes together, found Harry 
Cartland by Kate's side at the piano, spell- 
bound by the rich, full tones of her voice. 
The love words of her songs sunk into his 
heart, making mighty echoes that warned 
him to go while there was jet time, while 
the love he bore her was yet innocent, still 
unspoken. But he was deaf, deaf to every- 
thing but the wild pleading of his heart for 
love. Up to now, he had never for one 
moment believed that she cared for Mm, had 
indeed no reason for thinking anything but 



FOE, BETTER, FOE WORSE. 95 

the right and proper thought that she loved 
her husband, George Grafton. But now 
with " Si fit savais " sounding in his ears, 
the unusual tremor in her voice subdued 
him, and there was a softness in her face, 
about her lips that he had never seen before, 
the something that had been wanting was 
there now, and Kate was not only hand- 
some, but beautiful. A lovely flush upon 
her cheeks, a new light in her eyes. What 
was it ? Was it love ? love for him I And 
Harry Cartland's pulses throbbed to mad- 
ness. 

He leant over her, touching her, " Kate, 
Kate !" 

She raised her eyes to his. What answer 
did he read in them? They were filled 
with tears and love. 

Yet on the brink of temptation, they 
were saved ; for happy, unconscious George 



'96 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

came in, and Kate flew to him as to a 
harbour of refuge. She had only just found 
out her danger, but now it dawned upon 
her; what had made the happiness of the 
autumn and winter evenings? She knew 
she had been happy, but had not stopped to 
analyse her feelings, and now she had found 
the key to the mystery. It was not her 
love for her husband thjit had shed such 
brightness over her daily life, but for another. 
She was more humble, more gentle, more 
painstaking to George, than she had ever 
been before, and he, poor fool, was happy, 
happy in his fools' paradise. And Harry 
Cartland was happy, wildly happy in the 
knowledge of her love, happier than if she 
had told him of it, for the tongue can be 
made to lie ; but no one could doubt those 
trembling lips, those tearful, speaking eyes. 
They told the secret that Kate would have 



FOE BETTER, FOR WORSE. 97 

wished to carry to her grave ; but she felt 
that it was known to one now ; and in her 
heart she knew that she had learnt one in 
return ; and somehow, hard as she tried to 
shut this knowledge out, it asserted itself 
again and again, vibrating through her 
nerves with painful pleasure. 

Kate coaxed her husband to get home 
half-an-hour earlier, so as to avoid the daily 
tete-a-tete with Harry Cartland, yet she 
loved him and he knew it, and knew herself 
beloved. She could not shut him out of her 
life, but she wished to be a good wife, and 
true to George. So, when Dr. Cartland's 
brougham left him at Hazelhurst, he found 
two friends to receive him instead of one, 
and perhaps he was not altogether sorry. 

While a child only sucks the barley sugar, 
it lasts a long time, " linked sweetness long 
drawn out ;'' but when he begins to eat it in 

vol.. I. 7 



-98 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

good earnest, it is soon crunched away 
between his relentless little teeth. Does the 
•child ever regret not having made his plea- 
sure last as long as possible, or is the excite- 
ment of the " scrunching " and the remem- 
brance of it preferable in his estimation. 
Dr. Cartland had taken one small bite and 
liad found it delicious^ but while the barley 
sugar remained in his mouth, he was content 
that it should melt ever so gently, so long as 
he lost none of its sweetness and flavour, and 
things went on as before, and summer came 
round again. 

Kate had not quite such good spirits as of 
old ; she was thinner and paler, and George's 
anxious eyes found it out. In vain she 
assured him that she was v/ell — yes ! and 
happy, but he was not satisfied and went 
down to Dr. Cartland's house and consulted 
liim about her. 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 99 

Yes ! Dr. Cartland had noticed the altera- 
tion in Mrs. Grafton which Greorge spoke of 
— he would watch her more closely (could 
he?) and tell him his opinion to-morrow, 
and then George Grafton turned to his 
friend: " Harry ! I hope I may not ha>Ye to ''go 
away, but something has gone wrong about 
the coffee, and I am really afraid I shall have 
to run over to Ceylon and see what they are 
up to ; all my fortune is in the business, and 
I must, for Kate's sake, do the best I can. 
I am certain they are not growing it as we 
used to do, or the crop never could have 
failed as it has done this year." 

Harry Cartland expressed his hope that 
his friend might be saved such along journey, 
and that the next growth of coffee might 
prove better ! and then George spoke again — 
" I should not mind leaving her so much, if 
she looked as well and as strong as she did a 

7—2 



100 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

year ago, but she doesn't — if I go, Harry, you 
will see her constantly and watch her as care- 
fully as if she wer6 your own — you will pro- 
mise/' he continued, seeing Dr. Cartland 
hesitate. 

"Of course, I shall be very happy to 
do so, Grafton,'' said the other ; " and you 
may trust me to do all I can for her in 
your absence." 

A keener observer than poor George, 
would have noticed the increase of colour, the 
unusual agitation of his voice, the eagerness 
of his eyes. 

" I shall be truly glad if you will." 

** Very well/' answered Dr. Cartland 
with a sigh of relief; " I will promise to see 
her often and watch her closely, only you 
had better let her know it is your wish 
before you leave, or she might not like me 
to come." 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 101 

" Never fear," laughed George Grafton ; 
" Kate is above such nonsense, and will 
always have a smile of welcome for my friend, 
y^ou may be sure." 

So George himself set the ball of his 
destiny rolling with his own hands — poor 
honest-hearted George who thought no evil. 
That day in the City decided that he must 
^o to Ceylon or be a most serious loser, even 
perhaps a ruined man, inasmuch as tlie loss 
of money can bring ruin. The only chance 
of setting things going again, was the per- 
sonal superintendence of one who was 
thoroughly interested and who understood 
the matter in all its branches. George was 
the man, and he must go even though he 
must needs leave his wife at home. 

Poor George Grafton ! Does nothing 
warn you to let money — everything go, only 
to remain by the side of the girl you have 



102 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

promised to love and to cherish ? When he 
returned home he did not find it an easy 
matter to break to Kate this sudden and un- 
expected journey, and something in the un- 
usual pallor of her cheek, and the sad wist- 
ful eyes made the task more painful, and 
when she advanced to meet him, with two 
small hands outstretched, all he could do was 
to take her willowy form in his arms, and 
hold her to his heart silently. 

Something in his manner startled her, and 
freeing herself from his embrace she looked 
earnestly in his moved face. 

" Greorge," she whispered, " what is it?" 
Allpossible and impossible terrors crowded 
into her mind ; had he heard those words 
" Kate, Kate," which though spoken six 
months ago have vibrated ever since through 
"her heart. Had she talked in her sleep of 
the fatal secret gnawing at her inmost soul ? 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 103- 



Had he seen her clanger, and was he now 
^Toinof to warn her ai^^amst it ? In truth she 
hoped it might be so. She could not confess 
her unworthiness, but if he had guessed it 
and would help her against herself, how 
glad, how thankful she would be. She felt 
that he was a just man, and that he would 
help her if he knew, even though it broke 
his heaii;. 

But when with emotion he said, " My 
own Kate, I must leave you," she gazed at 
him white lipped. 

"Good God!" she cried out. "Why> 
what have you found out ?" 

The words might have conveyed a deeper 
meaning to a more suspicious man, but to 
George Grafton they meant nothing but 
what was said. 

" I have found out, my wife, that I -shall 
be a ruined man if I don't look after my 



104 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

own business ; and that my little Kate will 
have to ofive up her pretty home, her horses 
and carriages, and all the things that go to 
make the sweetness of her life, and will have 
to dress in cotton frocks, and cook her own 
dinners, and spoil those dear white hands ; 
and to prevent all this I must go myself to 
Ceylon, and put matters straight ; but oh ! 
my pet" (drawing her to him), " it is hard 
to part from you !" 

" Don't go ! Oh, George ! don't leave me 
for Heaven's sake, don't !" and she clung to 
him with detaining arm. 

" Katie, don't you know I would give 
anything on earth to stay, but I cannot 
make you a beggar, and must do my duty, 
my little Kate." 

"Do your duty !" she cried, with flashing 
eyes, " that is what Miss Ansell would say. 
Don't you say it, Greorge. Don't ; stay 



FOR BETTEE, FOR WORSE. 10^ 



with me, that is your most 'sacred duty ; let 
the money go — all of it, every penny. I 
will work, we will both work, and we will 
go away from here, and we will be happy," 
said Kate looking gently and timidly at him. 
*' We should be happy, George, should we 
not ?" and she slipped her cold little hand 
into the large brown protecting one of her 
husband." 

" My own brave darling !" he answered, 
love beaming on her from his bright true 
eyes. " You have made me very very happy, 
but I cannot accept such a sacrifice from 
you. 

'' Ah ! you would not be happy in poverty 
with me," sighed Kate, turning from him 
wearily. '*' I thought you loved me, George !" 

In another moment he had his arms 
about her, and was looking earnestly into 
the depths of her brown eyes. 



106 THE HAZELHURST MTSTEEY. 

■''Kate/' lie cried, ''it is impossible that 
you can doubt me, mj one and only love ! 
Did I not wait for three years patiently, 
with not even a smile from those dear eyes, 
to make you all my own, and now you say 
you thought I loved you ! Oh, Kate I 
Kate !" 

She trembled as he spoke. George was 
not great at making speeches. Even when 
he proposed to her it had been in a few 
words, but what he had said moved her and 
kept her silent, it was all so true ; he had 
waited for her, loved her, heaped upon her 
every pleasant thing, and she ! — she knew 
that two words from another man had had 
the power of reaching where all poor George's 
consistent kindness had failed to gain a 
heart's response. 

'' George !" she pleaded yet again, " Don't 
go. 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 107 

" Kate ! I must !" 

A light came into her face, and looking 
eagerly at him she placed her hand upon his 
arm. 

" Then I will go with you." 

" Indeed, it is impossible, Kate." 

" George, I am afraid to be left," and the 
large eyes looked haunted. 

" There is nothing to fear, Kitty," and 
he took her hand. 

When he called her " Kitty " it was in 
his tenderest moods, but Kate turned from 
him almost coldly. "How do you know 
that there is nothing to fear ? George, the 
day you leave me will be the last time you 
will ever see me in this world. I feel — I 
know it." And Katie's features were 
drawn with agony as with blind eyes she 
faced her fate. 

" Kate ! my wife, you are ill, or you 



108 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

would never with your strong mind let such 
fancies ran away with you. Thank God ! 
here is Cartland ! I see his carriage at the 
door !'' and George Grafton hurried from 
the room. 

A deadly sickness had come over her. 
Kate felt as if life were deserting her. She 
had pleaded with all her strength against 
her destiny, against herself, and it was all 
in vain, her husband had not understood 
her danger, and now she must face it alone ; 
and, as if that were not agony enough, here 
was that other coming even now to torture 
her with such sweet, bitter pain. Every 
word he uttered would echo in her heart, 
every look be mirrored back ; and then 
there came a thought at first of relief, suc- 
ceeded by pain. Probably, when George 
was gone he would not come any more ; she 
hoped he would not. Yes ! she forced her- 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 109 

self to say she hoped he would not ; and 
then with a start she found he was by her 
side, looking at her with those large mag- 
netic eyes that ever held her in their power. 
She tried to give them back a calm look, 
and then feebly burst into tears. Kate the 
tearless — Kate the fearless — was shrinking 
and trembling beneath the passionate gaze 
of Dr. Cartland. 

Much as he longed to clasp her to his 
heart, and dry her wet eyes with his impas- 
sioned lips, he commanded himself; not to 
spare her, but to make her more surely his 
own. Did he not feel that so long as Kate 
had her husband to fly to, she was not in his 
power ; but with George Grrafton safely out 
of the way, with the permission to come^ 
to come and see Kate whenever he chose, 
which poor foolish George had given him 
— he was as sure of his game as the 



110 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

deadliest marksman who ever lifted gun to 
shoulder. Indeed, Dr. Cartland could afford 
to be generous now, and calm poor Katie's 
fears. 

" Mrs. Grafton, your husband has sent 
me to have a little talk with you. He came 
to me this morning to tell me that you are 
not feeling well !" and he drew a chair up 
just opposite to her, and looked in her face 
with the gentleness that had made his name 
as a lady's doctor. " I like to sit opposite 
my patients, Mrs. Grafton, and have a good 
look at them. You are my patient now, 
so you must submit to be looked at." As 
he saw the angry red flush her cheek and 
brow, and the trembling of the lower lip — 
" Tell me, child, what ails you." 

As he spoke the tears rushed unbidden to 
lier eyes. 

" I don't know what ails me, Dr. Cart- 



FOE BETTER, FOR WORSE. Ill 

land, but I am ill," and more than ever the 
trembling lips worked with suppressed pain. 

How nearly she threw herself at his feet 
and asked him to leave her, never to return, 
for the love of God ! but then, with rosy red 
upon her cheek she grasped what acknow- 
ledgment that would be to him, and she 
tried to gather her scattered thoughts. 

"As I said before, Dr. Cartland, I am ill, but 
I never asked ray husband to send for you." 

Dr. Cartland gave her a forgiving smile. 

" I suppose, Mrs. Grafton, I ought to be 
offended with you, but," lowering his tone, 
and looking at her steadfastly, "there is 
nothing on earth I would not do for 
you ; and whether you wish it or no I will 
be your friend ! Give me your hand upon 
that bargain." 

Her friend ! She might still retain him 
without disloyalty to George, and her heart 



112 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEKY. 

gave a wild bound of joy at this compromise 
between love and duty, and she stretched 
out an eager little hand to her tempter. 

While they were so, clasped hand in hand, 
George Grafton entered the room. Were 
they not ratifying their friendship ! and 
Kate turned to meet her husband with un- 
faltering eyes. 

" See, George, Dr. Cartland and I are 
making a compact to be friends." 

" Mrs. Grafton was not at first quite 
willing to let me be her friend in your ab- 
sence, George, and was not best pleased 
with me for wishing to see her stronger; 
but I think at last she has consented to let 
me feel her pulse," taking her slender wrist 
into his hand, but looking at her husband. 
''A poor, weak, fluttering little pulse, 
George — feel it," and he passed the wrist 
into George's brown palm. 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 113 

'^ There ! that will do," cried Kate. " I 
hate doctors, or, at least, I hate being 
doctored''' and she blushed as she remem- 
bered that there was at least one doctor 
whom she did not hate. 

" How do you find her, Harry ?" asked 
George. 

" Weak and nervous ; she must have a 
tonic." 

" If George would only take me for a trip 
to Ceylon, it would do me more good than 
anything else," said Kate. 

" I think not," answered Dr. Cartland. 
*' You want quiet, rest, and care, not excite- 
ment." 

"Exactly my idea," said George. "No, 
Katie, you shall not be sacrificed ; you shall 
be at peace in your own home, and I will 
fight the battle for you, and get back as soon 
as I can." 

VOL. I. 8 



lU THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" What going, Dr. Cartland, so early ? 
Well, if you must, you must," and Kate 
held out a hand, kind, but not detaining, 
nor did George ask him to dinner that 
night, for he was so soon to be away from 
his wife that he wished for the intervening 
time to be spent alone with her. 

" Good-by, George ; come back soon, God 
bless you." 

" God bless you, dear wife ; my heart is 
heavy at leaving you. 'Now the time has 
come for parting, all the pluck has gone out 
of me. Kate ! Kate ! my little Kate ! do 
you know how precious you are to me !" 
and he clasped his left arm tightly about 
her, while he held both her hands in his one 
right one. " Is it too late to come with me 
now, Kate ?" he asked, his hungry eyes feed- 
ing on her beauty, and trying to take enough 
into his heart to satisfy it during his absence. 



FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. 115- 

" It is never too late," she cried, joyfully. 
" Do you mean it? Will you take me ?'* 

" Would you come even now, Kitty, with 
nothing ready T 

"Try me!" and she looked eagerly at 
him. 

" No, no ! I am a selfish brute even to 
wish it. I must not take you, darling !" 

The light faded from her face, but she 
made no answer. Once more he held her 
to his heart, and something very like tears 
glistened in his moist blue eyes. Once more 
he pressed his lips to hers, the lips that 
would unite no more in life. Once more the 
hands were clasped, and yet again ; and 
George was gone — Kate left alone. ISTo f 
not alone ! Had she not Dr. Cartland 
still ? But the idea failed to comfort her. 



8—2 



CHAPTER III. 

LAURA GRAITOn's VISIT. 




E. CARTLAND was sitting in an 
easy chair, smoking a first-rate 
cigar, and as he watched the white 
clouds of smoke ascend and disappear, a 
smile crossed his face. " So will vanish all 
clouds from the blue sky of my love, and 
there will be nothing left but sunshine for 
my darling and me. Grafton has been gone 
a week to-day. I wonder if Kate has been 
dull ? it will be as well that she should feel 
lonely till I come ; but a week's loneliness 
will surely be enough to make her glad of a 
comforter. Katie ! Ah 1 welJ, if the week 
has not been long to her it has been to me. 



LAURA GRAFTON'S VISIT. il7 

I cannot wait any longer," and lie rose and 
runo^ his bell and ordered his brouo^ham. 

Kate had been dull, had found the week 
a very long one. At first she hoped Dr. 
Cartland would not come ; had then re- 
proached him in her heart for staying away. 
Was this his friendship ? She was weary 
of everything. What a blank life was with- 
out George, and then she buried her face in 
her hands with shame, for though she did 
miss her husband she knew that there was 
another step she had listened for each daj^ 
of the seven since George had left, and that 
she wearied in the waiting with a sickening 
heart. She would not own to herself that 
she wanted him to come ; but why didn't 
he ? that was what troubled her, not his 
absence. Was he ill ? if so, it was of course 
nothing to her, but oh ! what a pain shot 
through her heart, for which she could find 



118 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

no reason. She often felt a " stitch " now. 
She rose and looked at her face in the 
glass. 

" How pale," she exclaimed, " and George 
only gone a week ; what shall I look like if 
he is awav six months?" 

Dr. Cartland had entered and had heard 
these words, and they did not please him. 

"Such a devoted wife would certainly 
not exist through so long a period of deso- 
lation, I am sure, Mrs. Grafton. I have 
called to inquire how the tonic suits youP" 
and he advanced and coldly shook her 
hand. 

It was best so, much best ; yet somehow 
this was not the sort of meeting Kate had 
expected with him. What had she expected? 
she had never pictured his greeting, and 
yet she had looked for more warmth, more 
colour. Kate could be cold too, so accepted 



LAURA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 119 

Dr. Cartland's frigid hand with her finger- 
tips, and then sat down. 

" The tonic ! oh, you are very good, Dr. 
Cartland, but I had quite forgotten it." 

"And do you intend to continue your 
forgetfulness ?" he asked. 

"Probably." 

" And, in fact, as your medical man 1 am 
distnissed" he went on, indignantly. 

" I did not say so, but pray take it in 
that light if you like." 

Then a silence, broken by Kate, " George 
has beautiful weather for his journey." 

"Very fine, indeed," said Dr. Cartland, 
aloud. But in his heart he wished George 
was dead. What did Kate want to talk 
of him now for, and why was she so 
cold? 

Another silence, broken by him — 

" It is a long time since I last saw you. 



120 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

Mrs. Grafton. What have you been doing 
with yourself ? Have you been dull ? 

" Dull 1" she cried, with a quiver in her 
lip, "oh no ! of course I have been as gay 
as a lark, as merry as a cricket, and 
all my friends have been so kind to me 
that I have not been left alone one day 
during the week — not once. What do you 
think of that, Dr. Cartland, now, haven't I 
kind friends?" 

" If Mrs. Grafton has been alone at all 
it must have been from choice ; of that I'm 
certain.'' 

" But it has not been from choice, and 
you know it. No one has been near me, 
not even you " — stopping herself suddenly. 

" Not even me ?" said Dr. Cartland, 
quietly. 

" I did not say you," answered Kate, 
pettishly. " Why should you come ?" 



LAURA GRAFTON'S YISIT. 121 

" Wlij, indeed ; I am not wanted, am I ?" 

" But I have been dull, very dull/' she 
went on, not appearing to hear liim; "and 
I shall write and ask Laura Grafton to 
come and stay with me, she will at least be 
some one to speak to." 

This was a shock to Dr. Cartland, but he 
would not show it. 

"Will Miss Grafton stay long with 
you? 

" Oh ! I really don't know," answered 
Kate, wearily; "very likely till George 
comes back." 

With difficulty the doctor suppressed an 
oath ; but recovering himself, he asked, 
" When will she come ?" and then an idea 
shot across his brain — he would utilise her — 
and with a look of interest he remarked, 
" You must pardon me, Mrs. Grafton, if I 
seem curious, but I am a warm admirer 



122 THE HAZELHURST ]\iySTEEY. 

of Miss Laura Grafton — we are great 
friends." 

" Warm admirer — great friends," repeated 
Xate, vacantly, with uncertain colour; "I — I 
did not know ; George never told me." 

"Now, wont you tell me wlien to come 
and see her, Mrs. Grafton ?" 

" Soon, next week ; whenever you like. 
You wont think me unkind. Dr. Cartland, 
if I ask you to go, but I don't feel well, I 
can't quite get over — George's going away." 

She ended up the sentence with an effort, 
for the lie stuck in her throat. 

" Take my tonic," said he, kindly ; " if 
you will promise to do so I will run in to- 
morrow and see how it agrees with you." 

He shook her cold hand gentl}', and left 
her without another word, and Kate sank 
down into her chair, wearily. 

" So he cares for Laura ; and I, fool that 



LAURA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 123 

I Avas, thought he loved me. How much 
better so, how thankful I ought to be. Oh 
George ! George ! I am thankful to be 
spared temptation "■ — and yet she shed bit- 
ter tears, tears over the wicked, forbidden 
love that was so sweet to her — " I shall get 
over it now that I know he loves another," 
she murmured, " I must write and get her 
here at once. It is mucli best so, and I 
can help him to be happy ; yes, I am glad," 
and Kate sat down to her davenport and 
wrote her invitation to her sister-in-law, 
asking her to come and stay a month. " He 
can say all he has to say in that time, I 
should fancy," she said to herself, with a 
sad smile ; "I am glad, but the flesh is 
weak, perhaps I could not bear it much 
longer," and Kate put on her hat and 
took the letter to the post herself. 

The next afternoon Dr. Cartland's 



124 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

brougham was again at Mrs. Grafton's 
door, as the neighbours remarked, and the 
owner stepped out, well-dressed, handsome 
as ever. Kate was lying on the sofa ; a 
smile flitted over lier lips when he entered. 
Why should she be cold to him now ? her 
future brother-in-law. 

** How is my patient to day?" he asked, 
her smile reflected on his face. 

" Mrs. Grafton, you haven't taken the 
medicine ! " 

" Yes, but I have," laughed Kate. 

" Then it isn't the right sort, for indeed 
you are looking ill." 

" It was what t/ou prescribed, at any rate, 
Dr. Cartland." 

"Yes, yes!" he murmured half aloud ; " we 
must go on with it for the present, it will 
make things more sure by-and-by — poor 
Katie, I am sorry you suffer." 



LAURA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 125 

*• What are you talking about?" she 
asked, sharply. " I can understand plain 
English, but I can't understand that." 

Dr. Cartland laughed. " I was thinking 
of a medicine I should like to give you, but 
I don't think the system is properly pre- 
pared for it yet. You shall have it by-and- 
by, and I shall see you. with the old roses 
back again. 

"Why don't you speak to me, Mrs. 
Grafton ?" 

" Dr. Cartland," she answered, " I know 
you well enough to claim the privilege of 
silence ; talk to me and I will listen. Laura 
will be here to-morrow or the next day, and 
then you will have to amuse her." 

" Shall I read to you then ? I should like to 
amuse you, though you don't seem to think 



«o." 



'"' I should enjo}^ it so much," cried Kate. 



126 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

" It would be ever so much pleasanter than 
talking, there doesn't seem to be anything 
worth talking about now George has gone," 
and she sighed heavily. 

"Yet," he answered, looking in her eyes, 
" I have seen you daily for twelve months, 
and we have never lacked conversation 
before. Why is it so ?" and he held out his 
hand to her. 

" I thought you were going to read," she 
said. " It would be far better than asking 
me riddles which I cannot answer ; ask 
yourself; you are older and wiser than I, 
Dr. Cartland." 

" If I were to tell you my answer, you 
would not like it, so I will look for a 
book." 

He rose and walked to the table. 

" ' The Idylls of the King/ will you have 
that ?" and without waiting for her answer. 



LAUEA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 127 

be sat down and read the sad and touching 
tale of the love of Launcelot and Guinevere. 

Dr. Cartland read well and impressively, 
and what with the soft haunting tones of 
the man she loved, and the story of the un- 
happy Queen — so like her own — Kate's 
whole heart was carried away, tears coursed 
slowly down her cheeks, and weeping for 
Guinevere's woes, she wept for her own. 
Hungrily listening for Launcelofc's passionate 
love, she felt the words which her love 
should speak ^to her. 

Dr. Cartland paused — the passion of 
Launcelot had stirred his own. There 
lay his Guinevere, and in another moment 
he was on his knees beside her. His lips 
pressed in maddest wildness to hers which 
had so lately received George's last kiss — 
his arms about her light young form — his 
words of love falling on the ears which had 



128 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

heard George's parting blessing only a little 
week since — a week and a day. 

" Kate, Kate, my one love, forgive me — 
forgive me, darling !" 

And for one short space she clung to him 
she loved with wildly clasping arms — only 
for a moment 1 She had had her heaven, now 
she must bear the remorse ! 

What ! George's wife in the arms of 
another, with beating, guilty, throbbing 
heart, and that other the lover of George's 
sister. She had indeed fallen low ! 

With a bitter cry she started up, \vith 
burning cheek and fevered eyes. 

" It was all that book," she cried. " I 
was Guinevere, not myself; you were Laun- 
celot, not yourself," and springing to her feet 
she trampledthe fallen book upon the ground. 
" You shall never read to me again, Dr. 
€artland, never. Go ! go 1" 



LAUEA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 121> 



Awakened thus rudely from his mad 
act, Cartland regained his feet. He saw 
it was no time to urge the excited girl — 
panic-stricken as she was by the violence of 
her own feelings — he took her hand. 

" Forgive me, Kate, I have been mad ; 
but God knows 1 love you, in that I am not 
Launcelot, but my own wretched self!" 

She trembled exceedingly. 

" Go ! Dr. Cartland, go !" and she clung to 
the chair back in which he had sat for sup- 
port. 

'' One word first," he entreated. " You are 
not angry with me ?" 

" Oh ! go ! go !" she cried, and with a 
backward look of love he obeyed her, and 
Kate Grafton sunk upon her knees and 
buried her face among the pillows of the sofa. 

Oh 1 that she could bury her shame — and 
yet, oh 1 God, what bliss to feel his lips — to 

vol.. I. 9 



130 THE HAZELHURST MYSTBEY. 

knew he loved her — if only for that brief 
S23ace. If all the future belonged to Laura 
Orafton, that minute no one could take from 
hor — when heart beat to heart — pulse to 
pulse in passionate love. 

So Kate, meaning to be penitent, found 
herself exultant. And, right or wrong, she 
had for one glorious, shameful moment, 
loved and been loved. 

When Dr. Cartland's carriage stopped 
next day at Mrs. Grafton's, he learned that 
she had just gone out for a drive, and went 
away annoyed and disappointed. She loved 
him, that he could no longer doubt, with 
all the warmth of her passionate young 
heart ; the blood surged madly through his 
veins as he remembered her beauty, and 
felt in imagination again the pressure of 
her arms, as for one moment of ecstasy 
she clasped them around him. 



LAUEA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 131 

" Why has she gone out to avoid me ?" he 
said half aloud. " She cannot escape me. 
No ! by Heaven she shall be mine. How I 
love the girl ! My God ! how I love her ! 
I would sooner give up everything on earth 
than lose her. My lovely Kate." 

The next day he called again, and Mrs. 
Grafton was at home. This time the neigh- 
bours remarked that the brougham was dis- 
missed without its master, and shook their 
heads in silence ; the time had not come to 
speak yet, but they took their notes so as 
to be well armed in case it ever should. 

Already Miss Perkins (living opposite) 
had made several entries in her diary, with 
the spirit of retributive justice in her heart. 
If ever dates should be wanted against Mrs. 
Grafton, she, Miss Perkins, would have them 
ready to hand. And why ? had Mrs. Grafton 
ever injured Miss Perkins ? No ! but she 

y— 2 



132 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

sinned against lier sex by being young 
and handsome, rich, and well dressed, by 
having a husband and an admirer, while 
so many Miss Perkinses were left out in the 
cold ! 

But this time Miss Perkins' entry might 

have been omitted, for Laura Grafton was 

by Kate's side, and of the two a stranger 

would have said the former was the object 

of Dr. Cartland's attentions, and that 

she received them with pleasure. They 

carried on nearly all the conversation, taking^ 

but little notice of Kate, who with downcast 

eyes and bent neck, was trying to work at some 

gossamer fabric, which would have become 

point lace by-and-by, had she not ruined it 

utterly with her trembling fingers. This, 

then, was the man for whom she was on 

the broad road to ruin ! But two days since 

and he had confessed his love for her in 



LAURA GEAFTON'S VISIT. 133 

wild abandonment, and now, before lier face, 
he was making " strong running " with her 
sister-in-law. Oh ! if only she could have 
loved George like this ! Poor George ! 

At last Laura turned to her a happy 
flushed face. 

" Why ! what a quiet mouse you are, 
Kate ! One would hardly know you were 
in the room ! What is the matter? Why I 
•do believe you are crying." 

"Then you believe wrong, Laura," ex- 
claimed Kate, throwing back her head. 
" But 1 am very tired of work ! shall we go 
into the garden, the room is so hot ?" 

Dr. Cartland rose and looked at her, then 
came closer, and felt her pulse. 

"Mrs. Grafton, you are ill to-night, you 
are more fit for bed than the garden. We 
have been selfish, and have overlooked you 
in our pleasant talk of old times." 



13i THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Miss Grafton had taken up the work 
which Kate had dropped. 

" Good gracious, Kate, how badly you do 
lace stitches, this will never be of any use, it's 
a perfect waste of time to go on with it; only 
look at it, Dr. Cartland, is it not a tangle?" 

He took the work into his hand, it was 
quite enough to tell him what she had 
suffered, and he somehow forgot to put it 
down again. He longed to take Kate to his 
breast, and tell her his heart was all her own ; 
but with Laura Grafton standing by, it was 
impossible. So he took his leave, but only 
to return again the next day. 

Laura and Kate were sitting alone ; they 
had been together three weeks, and yet 
another week would elapse before they 
parted. Laura held in her hand a bonnet. 

" Kate, your taste is better than mine, do 



LAUKA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 135 

tell me how to make this bonnet wearable 
with a mauve dress for the Horticultural to- 
morrow/' 

Mrs. Grafton looked up. 

" Why that bonnet's blue, Laura." 

" I know it is, but, don't people blend 
blue and mauve together now ?" 

" I dare say they do, but I couldn't lend 
a helping hand in such a combination;" 
and then, seeing a disappointed look cross 
Laura's face she went on, " I shall not go 
to the flower show, you shall have my new 
bonnet, it is ecn^, and will go well with 
your dress." 

" You are a dear. Oh, that is kind of 
you, Kate. You have good taste, and the 
bonnet's a perfect love. Ucr/i ! and Dr. 
Cartland said the other day it was his 
favourite colour, do you remember ?" 



136 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Did she remember? Ay, that she did. 
Had she not gone off at once to her 
milliner and ordered an ecru bonnet, so as 
to look her best ; and had she not tried it 
on with conscious pride — seeing how well 
she looked in it before her glass — a pride 
that Laura Grafton's could not reflect such 
a face. But though she had the bonnet 
something forbade her to " hoist " another 
man's " colours ;" and now the sacrifice was 
made and Laura was going to dress to 
please his taste, not she. 

" Do you remember ?'' repeated Miss 
Grafton, receiving no reply. 

" Yes," answered Kate, calmly, " that is 
why I offered it to you. There is no surer 
way to a man's approbation than remem- 
bering his tastes." 

" Do you mean, Kate, that you think I 
want to please him ?" 



LAURA GRAFTON'S YISIT. 137 

" I am sure you do," answered Kate, 
with the ghost of a smile. 

" And do you think he cares for me ?" 

If a face could get whiter than white, 
Kate's did so, but she maintained her calm- 
ness. " To judge by appearances he likes 
you very much." 

" But, you know what I mean Kate, do 
you think he cares for me as George did 
for you ? do you think he wants me for his 
wife ?" 

His wife ! Poor Kate^s heart stood still. 
She had never, even in the pictures she had 
drawn in her imagination, got so far as 
that. She knew sIlc could never be his 
wife. His love, his darling, was all she 
could be to him, and she had never once 
remembered another could be more. So she 
sat in a silent stupor, unable to give an 
-answer to the question. 



138 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

*' Don't be reserved, Kate ; you have 
gone tlirough it and I haven't. I never had 
an offer in my life. Do you think Dr. 
Cartland would have proposed if you had 
given him the opportunity ?" 

" How should I know ?" she cried, in a 
tone of agony. *' He shall have the oppor- 
tunity, never fear, Laura. Good heavens ! 
how my head runs round ; do ring for some 
water." 

" How selfish of me to be bothering you 
with my affairs, Kate," taking Jier hand and 
rubbing it. " Why, you are as cold as ice 
this hot day, and you are but the shadow of 
your old self now I look at you closely. I 
must speak to Dr. Cartland about you, 
Kate." 

" Dr. Cartland again," said Kate, im- 
patiently, " are we never to hear any other 
name — never to see any other face ?" 



LAUEA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 13^ 

" Why, I thoug-ht you were sucli friends/' 
said Laura, with wide-open, astonished 
eyes. 

" Friends ? of course we are ; but one 
grows tired of one's best friends if one has 
too much of them, you know." 

Laura looked at her. " Kate, you look 
very ill." 

" I am not ill ; if George were only back, 
I should be quite well." 

" And you wouldn't get tired of him ?" 
asked Laura, with a laugh. 

" Never !" cried Kate, with such energy 
as to startle her sister-in-law. " Oh 1 how I 
wish he were here." 

Kate had to go to the flower show, after 
all. Dr. Cartland declined most positively 
to take an unmarried lady without a cha- 
perone ; but it was Laura who wore the 
ecnf bonnet, a fact which Dr. Cartland did 



140 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

not fail to notice, and " drew in liis horns " 
accordingly. In five days more Laura 
Grafton would be gone : in the meantime 
he would only see her once again. There was 
already too much expectation in the young 
lady's eye. What did he care for her? 
Nothing, less than nothing. He talked to 
her to make Kate jealous ; but he was per- 
fectly determined not to get into any en- 
tanglement with her. If Kate were single, 
or a widow, he would make her his wife 
to-morrow ; but there was not another 
woman on earth besides her whom he 
would marry. 

The flower show over, Dr. Cartland took 
the ladies to their door, and then bid them 
''All revoirr 

The next afternoon Kate went for a 
drive, and left Laura at home to see the 
doctor, but he never came. This was 



LAUEA GEAFTON'S VISIT. 141 

repeated the following day with the same 
result. The third day, when Kate appeared 
in her hat, Miss Grrafton said it was such a 
lovely afternoon she should enjoy a drive, 
and accompanied her, feeling very indignant 
at Dr. Cartland for her two dull, blank after- 
noons. It so happened that he saw them, 
unobserved, and immediately drove over 
and called. 

Upon their return they heard of their 
visitor, and Laura Grafton was dreadfully 
annoyed. 

"How provoking to have missed him," 
she cried, " and there's only to-morrow left. 
Can't you do something for me, Kate ? I'm 
sure he will speak if he only has the 
chance. Couldn't you just write him a 
line, you know, and ask him to dinner 
to-morrow ; it's my last night, you see, and 
my only chance." 



112 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



" I will write if you wish it, Laura ; shall 
I say you want to see hiui ?" 

" Oh, no, no ! don't mention me ; say 
you do." 

" What," said Kate, with a melancholy 
attempt at a smile, '' do you expect me to 
take your sins on my shoulders, when I 
have so many of my own ?" But she got 
up at once and wrote. " There, Laura, will 
that answer your purpose ?" and she 
handed the letter to her sister-in-law to 
read ; it ran thus — 

" My dear Dr. Cartland, — We were 
sorry to miss you this afternoon when you 
called, but hope you will join us at dinner to- 
morrow, and help us to spend Laura's last 

evening. 

"Yours sincerely, 

"Kate Graeton." 

Kate watched her as she read it two or 
three times over, and wondered that she 



LAUEA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 143 

ever could have been attached to her — ever 
could have thought her a nice givl, and 
good-looking ; she settled now that there 
was nothing in her — she was bad style, had 
no taste whatever in dress, and what brains 
and beauty she had she had diligently 
made use of as a '' man trap" during the 
last month. If a man really loved a woman 
would he require a whole month's " draw- 
ing on" and encouragement such as Laura 
Grafton had bestowed daily on Dr. Cart- 
land? Did she not know every trick of 
her face when in his presence, and did she 
not despise her for her endeavours to 
attract ? 

"Are you quite deaf, Kate? I have 
spoken to you three times." 

" Wh}' do things always happen thrice ?" 
asked Kate, with a faint laugh. " There 
must be some magic in the number, I sup- 
pose ; for I daresay you didn't raise your 



144 THE HAZELHURST ]\IYSTERY. 

voice, and yet your third call aroused me 
you see. You have not much to occupy 
your time, Laura, suppose you write a 
treatise on the mystic third time." 

'' When you've done talking nonsense 
perhaps you will answer my question," 
said Laura, crossly. 

" Let's see, what was it ? Something 
about my infirmities, I think. Oh ! you 
asked if I was deaf, did you not ?" and 
without waiting for an answer, she continued, 
" No ! my beloved sister-in-law, I fear I 
cannot plead that excuse for my inattention 
to your interesting remark. I am not deaf. 
I am only stupid," said Kate, in a bantering 
tone. 

" How do you know my remark was in- 
teresting, if you did not hear it, you wise 
creature ?" 

" Because whatever falls from the lips of 



LAURA GRAFTON'S VISIT. 145 

Laura Grafton is bound to be so, of course I 
that was as neatly a turned compliment as 
you could have got out of Dr. Cartland 
himself, I think," turning upon her quizical 
half closed eyes. " You are not in an 
agreeable mood, Kate : I asked you, and I 
believe you heard me, whether you could 
not press Dr. Cartland a little more to come 
— your letter might be an invitation to a 
stranger, instead of a man who is almost a 
brother to you," and Laura Grrafton eyed 
Kate keenly with no suspicion of her secret, 
but with wonder at the changeful colour and 
expression of her face. 

It was some time before she received any 
answer — not till Kate had conquered in the 
struggle that had been going on in her 
heart. "Why should she help Laura to 
marry the man for love of whom she had 
lost self-respect and peace? Why should 

VOL. I. 10 



146 THE HAZELHUEST MTSTEKY. 

she invite him, that Laura should wring a 
proposal from him ? If she thought it was 
for his happiness she would cut the heart 
out of her body ; but was this for his liappi- 
ness ?" and then her conscience told her that 
anything that parted him from her must be 
for his good, and that battle was won. She 
raised a pleading, almost humble face to her 
sister-in-law : " Indeed, I will do my best 
to make things as you would wish them — 
don't be afraid, he will be sure to come ; but 
I could not press the matter further, I am 
sure Greorge would not wish my letter 
altered." 

" As you please," answered Laura, coldly ; 
" only most married women are glad to give 
a helping hand to the single ones in their 
little love affairs, but you must do as you 
please, of course." 

A look of pain crossed Kate's face — she 



LAURA GEAFTON'S YISIT. 147 

knew the accusation was false and un- 
founded, but it pained her nevertheless. 
Might not Laura tell George that she had 
stood in her light, and he believe her, and 
Greorge would not like his sister persistently 
hunting down her game as she had done 
during the past month, and it was with 
raised head Kate answered her sister-in- 
law. " Yes, Laura, I must do as I please 
in this matter, I cannot write more warmly 
to Dr. Cartland even to insure your getting 
him for a husband ; but I tell you he will 
come for all that !" and she arose with the 
air of a queen and rang the bell, which was 
quickly answered by a trim little parlour 
maid : " Jane ! tell one of the men to take 
this to Dr. Cartland's, and wait for an 
answer," and as the door closed Kate took 
out her watch. 

" It will be at least two hours before you 

10—2 



148 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

know your fate, Laura, would you care for 
a game at Badminton, or would you rather 
await the issue in your own room ? for this 
one is like the black hole of Calcutta, and we 
shall be suffocated if we remain here. We 
must set all the doors and windows open, 
and make a thorough draught if we are to 
breathe at all this evening ;" and, suiting 
the action to the word, she pulled up all the 
blinds and opened every place which would 
admit fresh air. 

"What a whirlwind," cried Laura Grafton ; 
" I must do some of ni}^ packing, as I am 
going away the day after to-morrow !" She 
turned to Kate, as she spoke, with a faint 
hope that even at this eleventh hour she 
might be asked to stay longer ; but Kate 
was stooping over some Gloire and General 
Jaqueminot roses in a vase, delicately 
smelling at them by turns to ascertain 



LAURA GRAFTOjS-'S YISIT. 149 

which was the most fragrant, and then, as if 
a sudden thought had seized her, she took 
one of each colour from the vase, and hold- 
ing up the Grloire she said, with a heightened 
colour, and little nervous laugh — 

"It is almost icru ! Will you wear Ids 
colours still, Laura ? and I will mount the 
red. Greorge always said a red rose was 
the loveliest flower on God's earth ! Poor 
old Greorge, I wonder how he is !" 

Each girl put her rose into lier breast, 
with a sort of party spirit. 

'' There !" cried Kate, " the Houses of 
York and Lancaster over again." 

" Or, if you prefer a more peaceful simile, 
Kate, we represent the * Two Eoses,' but we 
shall be blown away if we remain here any 
longer ; " and Laura made for her own 
room. 



^^? 






CHAPTEE IV. 




THE TWO ROSES. 

further plan was made between the 
two, but each held by her "colours," 
appeared in them at their tete-a- 
tete dinner, and resumed them next morning 
before breakfast ; and now Laura's last 
evening had arrived, and she was already 
seated in the drawing-room dressed for 
dinner; the hand of the clock pointed to 
five minutes to seven, and the dinner hour 
was seven o'clock. When she had entered the 
room, radiant in a blue silk dress trimmed 
with home-made point, cut into a very low 
" square,'' displaying her ample figure, 
with necklace and bracelets of turquoise 



THE TWO EOSES. 151 



and gold, and a cluster of " Gloires " in the 
front of her dress, and another bunch in the 
<jrepe'd masses of lier light hair; Kate 
looked up. 

"Five minutes to seven," exclaimed 
Laura, " and you have not begun to dress ! 
have you forgotten, Kate, that Dr. Cartland 
does not like waiting for his dinner? you 
know he told us so." 

"I know he is always punctual, he will 
be here in four minutes and a half, and I 
shall not be ready till a quarter past seven. 
Make the most of your time, Laura, a great 
deal may be said and done in a quarter of 
an hour, if you come to the point at once 1" 
And Kate ran out of the room with a more 
cheerful laugh than Laura had heard for 
some time. 

As the clock struck seven the door bell 
rang, and in another half minute Dr. Cart- 



152 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

land was announced. His dark eyes took 
in the scene at a glance. He even under- 
stood the " Gloire " roses ! and he seated 
himself as far as possible from Miss Grafton, 
after shaking hands with her. 

"What did you think of the flower 
show, Miss Grafton? you don't see such a 
galaxy of beauty at your country fetes, 
I'll warrant." 

*'Life is very dull in the country, Dr. 
Cartland. What a draught there is here," 
getting up and pushing her small lounging 
chair closer to him, so that she might bring 
all the guns in her battery to bear upon 
him. "There, that is better!" and she 
looked up into his eyes, and did not quite 
understand the expression she read there;, 
it meant, " I see your game, my lady, and 
am willing to receive your homage, you are 
a pretty girl, and you may worship me ; 



THE TWO EOSES. 153> 

but if you expect anything serious from me, 
you are mistaken ;" and yet he threw a 
glance of admiration on her and said, 
" Much better !" with a quiet laugh. 

The colour rose to her cheek at his reply, 
and she thought the proposal was coming ; 
and she began hastily, " You know. Dr. 
Cartland, I don't care for the country, I 
should like my home to be in London," and 
she lifted her eyes again to his face. 

" I should not like the country either ; 
so you see our tastes agree, Miss Grrafton !" 

" You can't think what a dull life mine 
is. Dr. Cartland," she went on, her eyes still 
upturned to his. 

''Then what must mine be?" he asked. 
"Your have your father and mother, and 
no end of brothers and sisters, while I have 
no one !" and he gave an actual, real sigh, 
not, as Laura supposed, for her, but for 



154 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 



another, because he daily found life was a 
void without her. 

"You dull!" cried Laura. ''Oh! Dr. 
Cartland, I cannot believe it. Every one 
says how sought after you are, how much 
your patients respect you. You cannot be 
dull, gifted as you are, you know there is 
hardly a house in London where you would 
not be welcome." 

"And do you think that is enough to 
satisfy a man ?" he went on, more thinking 
aloud than speaking to her. "Is a man 
never to know anything dearer than the 
world? After all, my life is very blank indeed." 

Surely this was coming to the point. 
Laura's heart fluttered with expectation. 
She must not rouse him from this senti- 
mental mood, how dreamy and how handsome 
he looked; ten minutes past seven, only 
five minutes more, she must help him on. 



THE TWO ROSES. 155 



"Blank! Ob, Dr. Cartland ! and you 
have so many to care for you, see how 
welcome you always are here ! is not Kate 
ever glad to see you ? am not I ?" 

He awoke from his dream with a start. 
" Why, good gracious ! What has become 
of Mrs. Grrafton? it is nearly a quarter past 
seven !" Then, after a pause, '' You see, in 
your pleasant compan^^, Miss Grrafton, I had 
almost forgotten the time ; but the voice of 
Nature will be heard, and I have arrived at 
the conclusion that I am very hungry." 

The door gently opened, and Kate entered 
the room. 

"Better late than never, Mrs. Grafton,'* 
said Dr. Cartland, rising with alacrity to 
shake hands. 

" I am rather late, I own, but I am glad 
to see you not looking much the worse for 
the delay." 



156 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

" We were getting very impatient, were 
we not, Miss Grafton?" he said with a 
smile. 

" If I am to tell the truth. Dr. Cartland,. 
I think we were both very contented, and I 
don't believe you even thought of the time 
at all until just before Kate entered the 
room," with a triumphant look at her sister- 
in-law ; and then she continued, " it was 
very naughty of you, Kate, to be late, 
knowing that Dr. Cartland likes punc- 
tuality, but " (shaking her head) " you always 
are so long beautifying; what makes you 
so, I can't think, for that muslin dress 
would not have taken me three minutes to 
put on." 

" No !" said Mrs. Grafton, with bewitch- 
ing, good humoured surprise. " Well ! you 
see it took me exactly twenty minutes, as I 
told you it would. T left the room at live- 



THE TWO EOSES. 157 



minutes to seven, and appeared like fate 
inexorably at fifteen minutes past ! voila !" 
and Kate made a little gesture, dismissing 
the subject, and accepted Dr. Cartland's 
right arm in obedience to the dinner bell, 
while Laura Grafton took the left. 

" A thorn between the two roses, Laura," 
said Kate, leaning forward so as to catch 
her sister-in-law's eye across Dr. Cartland's 
stalwart form. 

Kate thought he held her hand unneces- 
sarily tight against his arm, under the 
■circumstances. As he had come to propose 
to Laura, why did he insult her by profess- 
ing an affection he did not feel ? Had not 
Laura said, meaningly, how happy they 
had been without her, and he had smiled 
and not contradicted her ! She supposed 
they had settled it all, to their satisfaction. 
She had suffered bitterly during those 



IcS THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

twenty minutes, but had been able to enter 
the room with a smile, and as she sat doing 
the honours of her table Dr. Cartland 
thought she was lovelier than ever, her eyes 
lit up by an unusual light, and a brilliant 
colour born of excitement upon her cheeks. 
Kate never had been so sparkling and witty 
before, her blood boiled, was at fever heat. 
Dr. Cartland noted each symptom with 
inward satisfaction. Could she suffer so, 
unless she loved him with more than the 
ordinary love of women? That she was 
suffering he knew. She helped herself to 
the various dishes as they were handed 
round, but he saw that she merely dallied 
with them, eating none. He knew that the 
woman he worshipped was suffering. He 
sorrowed for her pain, yet exulted in it ! 
Miss Grrafton would be gone to-morrow, 
and then 



THE TWO EOSES. 159 

Kate looked at her sister-in-law and rose. 
" I am sorry, Dr. Cartland, we have no 
one to amuse you." 

" What !" he exclaimed, " you surely 
don't expect me to remain here to be 
Tommy All-alone ! I don't mean to drink 
any more v/ine. You can't be barbarous 
enough to desert me, Mrs. Grafton ?" 

Kate wanted him to remain behind. She 
wished to find out if it were all settled ; if 
she had given Laura opportunities enough 
to " land her fish." She wanted to know 
the worst, or the best, not being at that 
moment able to determine which ^vas which. 
But anything would be better than the 
agony of uncertainty. 

Laura Grafton, however, had no desire to 
lose sight of her game. She had " stalked " 
it steadil}^, and did not wish him to have an 
hour for reflection, sipping his wine in 



160 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

moody silence ; she merely wanted to take 
up the thread where it had got tangled 
before dinner, and wind it up to a satisfac- 
tory conclusion, so she gave Kate no time 
to answer. 

" Yes, do come with us, Dr. Cartland, we 
shall be sure to quarrel if you don't, or go 
to sleep talking of the weather, and not be 
^ble to rouse up again all the evening, or 
something dreadful will happen.'' 

Dr. Cartland needed no further invitation, 
but followed the ladies at once. They 
selected their favourite chairs, and sat by 
the French window, the evening air fanning 
their cheeks, the conversation was general. 
Laura wondered how she coald get rid of 
the objectionable third element. If only 
the length of the room were between them ! 
then they could talk without being heard — 
in subdued tones. 



THE TWO ROSES. 161 

" Oh, Katie," she cried, " do sing us some- 
thing ! You don't want music and lights, 
like most people. One of those soft songs 
you often sing in the gloaming will be de- 
licious !" 

Kate, clad in white muslin, with crimson 
roses kissing her snowy neck, floated across 
the room in the waning light, and began 
Elaine's song of " Love and Death." 

" Sweet is true love though given in vain — in vain, 
And sweet is death who puts an end to pain : 
I know not which is sweeter, no, not I." 

" Love, art thou sweet ? then bitter death must be ; 
Love, art thou bitter ? sweet is death to me ; 
Oh ! love if death be sweeter — let me die." 

** Sweet love ! that seems not made to fade away ; 
Sweet death ! that seems to make us loveless clay ; 
I know not which is sweeter, no, not I. 

" I fain would follow love, if that could be, 
I needs mast follow death who calls for me; 
Call, and I follow. I follow. Let me die ! 

VOL. I. 11 



162 THE HAZELHUKST IMYSTEEY. 

As the last notes died away, burning tears 
fell upon the keys of the piano. She had 
felt every word of it. How happy she could 
have been had love been possible, how 
thankful she would be for death — death ta 
release her from the bonds of wifehood to a 
man (good though he was) whom she could 
not love ; to release her from the knowledge 
of the affection of the man whom she did 
love, body and soul, heart and life, for an- 
other, from her double shame, her double 
anguish. 

" Let me die !" Kate's voice sounded its 
agonised lament straight into Dr. Cartland's 
heart, where it remained quivering painfully. 
Music had at all times great power over 
him, and these low faltering words and 
notes of Kate Grafton's sunk deep. The 
tremulous earnestness told him such a tale 
of her sadness and her suffering that he was 



THE TWO EOSES. 165 

touched to the quick. His love, his Kate, 
wished for death ; was weary now, but was 
it not in his power to make her wish for life 
again ? His bright darling ! What could 
she and grim death have to say to each 
other ? she in her early bloom of girlish 
womanhood. No ! she should not die, but 
live for him. 

He would with his left arm shield her from 
the world, and with his right caress every 
care-mark from her brow. His beautiful 
Kate ! Thus his eager thoughts chased 
each other through his brain, while Laura 
Grafton whispered unheard in his ear. 

She was sitting close to him, and he 
eagerly leaning forward, looking into a 
bright happy future with Kate, a smile of 
joy playing upon his lips. Any one might 
have mistaken the two for happy lovers. 
Kate, her song of love and death ended, 

11—2 



164 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

raised lier head, and in the twilight saw it 
all. With a stifled wail she slid ghost-like 
from the room. Why should she be a 
restraint upon them ? They were all in all 
to each other, she but a looker-on at their 
joy ! She could not bear it yet ; by-and-by 
perhaps she might see it unmoved, not 
now ! She had skirted the garden, round 
by the shady trees and luxuriant shrubs, 
the magnolias, with their lamp -like flowers, 
and having gained a bit of tangle wood all 
moss-grown under foot, she sunk upon the 
earth, her pure white dress bedabbled with 
the evening dew. 

"Oh! my Grod !" she cried, "let me 
die," and so upon her knees she prayed, 
" Let me die 1" Forgetful of time and 
space, she lay there prone, a lovely, broken 
flower, wrestling with her Maker for a boon 
which could not be granted — ^yet. 



THE TWO ROSES. 165 

Dr. Cartland heard the \vail of Kate's 
despair, as she left the room, but her flight 
was lost in the tumult of his own feelings, 
and he was not aware of her absence. Laura 
continued her soft talk, and he sat by her 
absorbed in his own reflections, till aroused by 
her asking in a raised voice for another song 
from Kate, and then he became aware that 
there was no answer. Laura cared nothing 
for music, but it obliged her to talk in con- 
fidential tones, so she liked Kate to sing, but 
now that she was conscious of her absence, 
she felt even more glad. She had an open 
course ; she must take the lead, and fly 
past the winning-post in triumph. 

"Ah!" she exclaimed, "dear old Kate, 
she has gone away. I like to see a woman 
do as she would be done by, don't you, Dr. 
Cartland? Now she knew that my last 
evening with you T should like to have you 



166 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

all to myself, knd" laying her hand upon his 
arm, and looking with bright eyes into his 
face, " you know I do, do you not ?" 

Dr. Cartland saw the pretty, hopeful face 
very near his own, but had no desire to 
possess it. He would, perhaps, at any other 
time have robbed those red lips of a kiss, 
but to-night there was no room in his 
thoughts for her. Kate had gained such 
an ascendancy over him that his mind was 
full of her image, full and overflowing. At 
any other time Dr. Cartland would have 
enjoyed a flirtation with Laura Grafton, 
taking very good care, however, that no 
offer to make her his wife should pass his 
lips, but not to-night. All that was real in 
the man, all that was earnest, yes, and all 
that was good, had been called out to-night 
by his love for Kate. Had she been free 
to become his wife he would have been a 



THE TWO ROSES. 167 

better man for all his after-life ; for his love 
for her was the one reality of his artidcial 
existence. But Kate was not free ; she was 
the wife of his friend. He knew it, but this 
knowledge had no power now to stop his 
determination. If she could not be his 
wife, she loved him, and should be his 
darling, his companion, the oasis of his life ! 
With such thoughts it was no pleasure to 
him to " spoon" with Miss Grafton, and for 
once he put vanity aside. 

" Laura," he said, " we have always been 
friends, and it is a pleasure for me to 
be with you. Don't think me imperti- 
nent, but, once or twice, I have thought, 
feared, that you gave me credit for a warmer 
feeling. I never shall marry. Miss Grafton, 
unless great improbabilities happen." 

Laura began to cry. 

"Ohl Dr. Cartland, I thought " 



168 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Then throwing up her fair head with an in- 
dignant gesture — ''Never mind what I 
thought, but you certainly gave me to 

understand " Then with a sigh—'' Never 

mind, it's over now ; but tell me one thing, 
did Kate know of these views of yours?" 

" Certainly not. I [have never spoken of 
my feelings to Mrs. Grafton/' 

"Then good-night," said Laura. "You 
will excuse me. Dr. Cartland, but I am 
going to my own room. I am just a little 
upset. I don't blame you, you know, but I 
mistook your friendship for something else. 
Good-by, Dr. Cartland ; think of me some- 
times, and tell Kate when she comes back 
that I'm gone to bed. Don't let her come 
to me to-night," and Laura Grafton left the 
room, and rushed upstairs, shedding tears 
of rage and disappointment over her crushed 
hopes and fruitless endeavours. 



THE TWO KOSES. 169 

Dr. Cartlancl waited impatiently for 
Kate's return ; every moment seemed an 
hour. At last Le could bear the silence, 
the quietness, the inaction no longer, and 
stepped out into the night. One star looked 
him in the face, glittering brightly — that 
was Kate, the one bright spot, the one pure 
feeling of his heart. What could have 
become of her? He wandered on uncon- 
sciously, taking the path she had trod an 
hour before. He entered the tanglewood 
which Kate often laughingly called her 
*' wilderness," and stopped. What was that 
white and glimmering on the dark ground? 
His heart beat quickly, his breath came 
heavily, his instinct told him that it was 
Kate. But why, in God's name, was she 
lying there so motionless ? Was he too 
late'? 

" Let me die !" Her last words rang 



170 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

through his brain painfully. Was she 
dead? Had God heard and answered her 
prayer? He rushed forward and prostrated 
himself upon the ground beside the still, 
white figure, and repeated her name again 
and again in an agonised appeal. 

" Kate, Kate, my heart's one idol — Kate, 
my own and onl}^ darling, live for me ! do 
not leave me, darling. Oh ! Kate, Kate, 
you shall never leave me again !" 

He drew her to his breast. How cold 
she was, how wan, but she was not dead, 
she was his own, his very own. He sat 
upon the damp ground with Kate in his 
arms, the moon shone out upon their love, 
and Kate opened her large dark eyes with a 
glorified expression, looking ujd into the 
passion-pleading face bent over her. 

" You love me, darling," he murmured, 
holding her cold hands in his. 



THE TWO EOSES. 171 

" I love you — God knows I love you, 
love !" she answered, solemnly, for which 
assurance he rained eager kisses upon her 
upturned face. *' Dr. Cartland," she whis- 
pered, " are you not going to marry Laura ?" 
and even at the thought her features were 
distorted by pain. 

" Marry Laura !" he repeated after her. 
*' My little Kate, how can you mock me ? 
Don't you know that my life is yours. I 
would give up every earthly wish for you. I 
am not a religious man, as you know ; in 
fact I think my Kate one day called me an 
unbeliever, so I have no fear of after-punish- 
ment, to take away from my happiness ; but 
I am not an unbeliever, for I believe in you, 
my heart's darling." Then, after a pause, 
Kate lying happily passive in his arms, he 
looked up. "As I said before, darling, I 
<lon't believe in much, and I certainly don't 



172 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

kneel down each day to ask for daily bread, 
and yet when I saw you lying there in your 
white dress, with your dear pale face, I 
have an idea that I called upon His name. 
Kate ! somehow you open a higher life to 
me ; help me from myself, darling, teach me 
to be pure and good like you." 

Kate trembled. 

'' How happy we should have been, Dr. 
Cartland." 

*' Should have been, my love — shall be, 
you mean. Kate, we will never part again* 
Come home and be more to me than wife." 

Wife ! That name recalled her. His 
wife she could never be. Come home ! her 
heart bounded wildly at the invitation, how 
she longed to make her home upon his 
breast ! But at the word " Wife," George's 



THE TWO KOSES. 173 

face arose before her pale and stern, and she 
gave a cry of pain. 

" Dr. Cartland, spare me — spare George. 
You know I cannot be your wife. I am 
his." 

'' Hush, hush, my love," he whispered, 
soothingly. " You are mine now, you have 
given yourself to me, you are not his ! Not 
my wife ? Why, Kate, what does that word 
convey to you? A foolish promise, rashly 
spoken by a young and inexperienced girl, 
or the true love of a noble woman's heart ? 
My little Kate, which makes a woman most 
a wife? Love, or a promise which it is 
more sinful to keep than to break ? Kate, 
you are mine ! If there be a God, I claim 
you before Him — to come to me — ^yes ! to 
be mine for ever." 

She was carried away by his words. 



174 THE HAZBLHURST MYSTERY. 

by his will, by their joint love. She 
trembled in his embrace, and yet crept 
closer. 

" Come, Kate ! yes, now !" and he 
rose with difficulty, his burden in his 
arms. 

" Put me down," she begged, " I want to 
speak to you." 

He placed her on her feet. How stiff and 
numb she was ! and away from his warmth, 
how cold ! 

" Dr. Cartland," she whispered, " how can 
I go, with Laura here ?" 

" True," he answered, " I had forgotten 
her. To-morrow, love, I will come for you." 

" And you never loved her ?" asked Kate, 
looking in his face earnestly. 

" Never, Kate ; I have never cared for any 
woman in my life, except you — never shall 
— you are my one love," and he drew her 



THE TWO EOSES. 175 

to liira passionately, and then, "liow cold 
you are, my little one, selfish that I have 
been to keep you standing, with this thin 
dress, in the night air. To-morrow, love ! 
Oh, how you shiver! Good-night, sweet- 
heart. Good-night !" 




CHAPTEE Y. 



THE MYSTERY. 




ISS PERKINS had sat a great deal 
at her window lately, she was still 
there watching the passers by, and 
ever and anon casting a hasty glance at the 
gate which faced her own, and at the peep 
of rose-clad house between the trees. " The 
drawing-room blind has not been up since 
Saturday, and that man's carriage has never 
been once at the door since Friday. Some- 
thing very unusual must be going on, and 
yet I have never heard a whisper." Miss 
Perkins got a little weary of her "sentry- 
go,'' so set up a book to help away the 
iime, and getting engrossed by it, almost 



THE MYSTERY. 177 

left off her occupation of spider, till the 
stopping of wheels opposite brought her 
suddenly back from fiction to every- day 
life, and stern facts. 

" Good heavens !" shrieked the small old 
maid, '' A hearse ! Tlien some one is dead 
there, and that is why the blinds are down. 
Who can it be? I must find out.'* But 
just as she was retreating from the window, 
her attention was arrested again by the 
movements outside, and to her surprise, 
instead of a coffin being brought from the 
house, the doors of the hearse were opened 
and a magnificent coffin of polished oak, 
richly ornamented with silver devices and 
inscription plate, was drawn forth, and it 
was evident that it was not empty, for the 
two men who bore it staggered under its 
weight. Several frightened white-faced 
servants were now upon the scene. Miss 

VOL. I. 13 



178 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

Perkins opened the window and listened. 
The parlour-maid was addressing one of the 
carriers. 

" But who told you to bring that here T* 
said the girl. " We were not expecting any- 
thing of that sort, and oh, it's dreadful !" 

"Here's my directions," said the man 
roughly, handing her a written paper. 
" ' Mrs. Grafton, Hazelhurst House, Hazel- 
hurst,' and here I must leave her." 

" Her," cried the girl, " who is it ?" 

" Can't say," replied the man doggedly. 

" Do you mean you don't know ?" per- 
sisted the girl. 

" I never knows nothing, but what I am 
told, and the gent, he gives me this, and 
says, ' drive the party inside to that address, 
and say as I am coming down to make all 
necessary arrangements this afternoon." 



THE MYSTERY. 179 

" Yes !" said she, ''but who is the gent?" 

"Well, I suppose you will know him 
when you sees him, Miss ; but if you was to 
ask questions from now till the day of judg- 
ment, I couldn't tell you." 

The other servants had listened to the 
conversation, and a happy thought struck 
the coachman — 

" Well, I suppose you know where you 
brought the body from ?" he said, with an 
air of authority. 

" London." 

" London ! eh ? but you see, mister, 
London's a large place, what street may it 
have been, now ?" 

" Can't say — didn't look at the name — it 
was early — hardly light when the gent 
knocked at my door and asked if I wanted 
n job, and vrhen I said ' Yes,' lie said I was 

12-2 



180 THE HAZELHUEST JMYSTERY. 

to put two 'osses into a 'earse at once ; and 
when I was ready I got on to my box, and 
up he jumped beside me/' 

" With you ?" cried all the servants, in 
a breath. 

" On the box with me/' answered the man 
solemnly. " His orders was, drive straight 
on till I tell you to stop ; and I did. It 
was almost dark, and I didn't notice no- 
think partikler. All at once he calls out 
for me to stop, and I stopped ; and then he 
opens the door with a key, and he goes up- 
stairs, and then I see a woman who looked 
scared like, and I thought she was a-goin* 
to talk to me; but just then he says, 
' come up,' and me and my mate went up, 
and he desired me to take charge of thaf 
(pointing to the coffin, now half out of the 
hearse, half in), " and he give me this ad- 
dress, and paid me handsome, and if you was 



THE MYSTERY. 181 

to keep me talking all day I couldn't tell 
you no more." 

" I don't think we had better take it in," 
remarked the cook, who was very nervous 
and frightened. 

" You see we haven't received no orders. 
*' Couldn't you leave it at the ' Green Man* 
till we know, sir ?" asked the housemaid. 

"No! I couldn't," answered the man 
sharply. " My orders was to leave it here — 
are you ready Tom?" turning to his mate. 
" If you wont take it in I'll leave it on the 
doorstep — time is money to me — I'm in a 
hurry." 

And the men carried the coffin to the 
steps and put it down. 

" Will you take it in, or no ?" said the 
undertaker; "it seems rather indecent like 
to leave a body out here in the hot sun." 

While he was speaking the servants had 



182 THE HAZELHURST MZSTERY. 

noticed the plate on the coffin, and were 
now gathered round reading it. 

The parlour maid shrieked, '' Oh ! look,, 
look, it's missus herself !" 

" Nonsense,'' said the coachman, sharply, 
*' I drove the missus and Miss Grafton to 
the station myself on Saturday, it can't be 
her." And then he read aloud, " Katharine 
Grafton, wife of George Grafton, Esquire, 
Hazelhurst House, Hazelhurst, died Sep- 
tember 3rd, 187—, aged 20.'*' 

" Shall we go in?" inquired the undertaker.. 
" You seem to know the lady." 

" Yes, go in," said the coachman. " Know 
her ! ay, I should think we did, she was 
the prettiest lady as ever you set eyes on,, 
and as good a mistress as ever lived. When 
my child died last winter she was very kind 
to me and my good woman. You should 
have seen her sitting in her handsome 



THE MYSTERY. 183 

dresses nursing that child. Yes, he died in 
her arms, died hard of convulsions, poor 
little fellow, and then she S23oke like a sister 
to my wife, she did. She paid for the 
funeral, and a handsome one it was. We've 
lost a good friend in Mrs. Grafton !" and the 
man rubbed his coat-sleeve across his eyes. 
The women were all crying, for they were 
attached to their mistress. All at once they 
perceived another figure among them — a 
man dressed in deep black — evidently dread- 
fully agitated, with a pale set face. 

" Oh, T am glad you are come, sir," said 
the parlour-maid, " if anything could glad- 
den one at such a time. Oh ! sir, is it not 
dreadful ? my poor missus." And the girl 
began to sob heartily. 

" For Grod's sake get her into the house ; 
don't stand here for the neighbours to gape 
at !" 



184 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

And without another word Mrs. Grafton's 
€offin was carried into the house, from 
whence only the Saturday before she had 
walked out at the same door, with a smile 
upon her lips, in the prime of her youth 
and beauty. 

Dr. Cartland attended to everything, 
ordered the funeral, saw the clergyman, 
wrote to Dr. Grafton, wrote to Miss Ansell, 
wrote to George. He did not telegraph to 
him, of what use could it be ? He could not 
possibly be home for the funeral ; details 
could be better told in a letter, at the best 
of times telegrams are unsatisfactory 
things. 

Dr. Cartland did not remain at the house, 
but came down every day ; that is, he came 
on the two intervening days before the 
funeral took place. 

Mrs. Grafton was brought home on the 



THE MYSTERY. 185 

Wednesday, and on the Saturday she was 
to be buried. 

On the Friday Miss An sell arrived. She 
had come to see her niece once more, and to 
follow her to her last resting-place. Dr. and 
Mrs. Grafton had come also. 

Miss Ansell directed one of the servants 
to take her to the room where the body of 
her niece lay. She walked with a firm step; 
stiffer than ever in appearance, harder in 
face, no emotion was visible in her cold 
grey eyes. 

The coffin was covered with wreaths of 
lovely hot-house flowers, placed upon it by 
friendly hands. The sight of them did not 
please Miss Ansell. 

She beckoned to the maid. " Eemove 
that rubbish and open the coffin !" 

" Open the coffin!" repeated the girl in a 
hushed voice. ''Lor, Miss, it's screwed down!" 



186 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" When was it screwed clown?" asked 
Miss Ansell. 

'' Oh ! how do I know, mum — Miss — 1 
beg your pardon. Before she was brought 
home, poor dear ! and only to think that 
master, wlio loved her so, should be abroad 
and know nothing about it." 

" Who has seen Mrs. Grafton since she 
died?" and Miss Ansell fixed her eyes 
sternly upon the girl. 

"Why, Dr. Cartland, ma'am. He gave 
the certificate of her death, I believe, and 
she died of infiammation of the lungs, which 
carried her oflP quite sudden." 

Miss Ansell grew more rigid and stifi[ at 
every word. 

" Who else has seen her ?" she asked. 

" No one that I am aware of. The 
doctor " 

" I don^t want to hear any more about 



THE MYSTEEY. 18: 



the doctor, girl ; tell me all you know about 
your mistress since Mr. Grafton left !" 

" Well, Miss, after master went away, 
Mrs. Grafton seemed to fret very much. 
She stayed indoors, and she got to look 
very pale, and then Dr. Cartland came to 
caU." 

"When was that?" interrupted Miss 
Ansell. 

*• That was a week or ten days after 
master went away. Dr. Cartland came two 
or three times." 

" What did he come for ? Was my niece 
ill?" 

" Yes ! master had put missus into Dr. 
Cartland's hands to doctor, for I heard him 
talking to him in the passage the last time 
they met, and he said to the doctor, " Harry^ 
take care of her as if she were your own sister. 
I don't like the look of her at all — poor 



188 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Kate ! she has grown pale and thin," and 
then Dr. Cartland asked if there was any 
consumption in the family, but I didn't hear 
master's answer, for I had passed out of ear- 
-shot. 

"Well, Miss, to go on with my story: Miss 
Grafton then came and stayed a month, and 
we all thought as how the doctor was sweet 
upon her, for they used to sit and whisper 
like, and poor missus she mostwise sat apart 
at her work, and looked low and forsook like. 
Dr. Cartland was here last on Friday — I 
mean before she died — it was Miss Grafton's 
last night, and she and the doctor sat together 
till late, and missus went out in the garden 
-alone. When she came in she was as white 
as marble, and as cold. I went up to her 
room and asked her to have something hot, 
but she wouldn't. She asked where Miss 
-Grafton was, and I went to see if she was 



THE MYSTEEY. 189 



in the drawing-room, but she had gone ta 
bed, and I went back to tell missus and 
found her all of a shiver. She said she had 
been sitting out in the garden with nothing 
on, and had caught cold. I went and got 
her a hot bottle, for her feet were like 
stones, and she thanked me and seemed 
glad of it. I called her next morning, and 
she was feverish, and said she had a pain 
in all her limbs, and she coughed. She said 
if it had not been Miss Grafton's last 
morning, she would have breakfasted in bed, 
but she had promised to go up to London 
with her and see her oflP at Paddington. At 
eleven o'clock they started off in the carriage. 
Missus seemed more herself, and turned 
round and asked me to order something 
nice for her dinner, as she had not time to 
see about it, and I did. T ordered her as 
pretty a little dinner for one as you 



190 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

would wish to see, but she didn't come 
back. She telegraphed to cook to say she 
was not feeling well, and so should remain 
in London with friends for a day or two. 
And the next we heard of her, Miss," and 
Mary wiped her eyes on the corner of her 
white apron — " the next we heard of her was 
when they brought her home like that !" and 
the girl pointed to the coffin. 

'' What was the undertaker's name ?" 
asked Miss Ansell. 

" The undertaker's name here is Winters, 
Miss. I don't know the name of the man 
Avho brought her from London." 

" What ! you didn't take his name and 
address ?" 

"No, Miss ! we were just questioning him 
when Dr. Cartland came, and the man went 
away." 

" Go ! and give my compliments to Dr. 



THE MYSTERY. 191. 

Grafton, girl, and say I wisli to speak to him 
here ;" and Mary went eagerly, glad to escape 
Miss Ansell's questionings and stern looks. 

When the old lady found herself alone, 
she passed her hand quickly across her fore- 
head as if to clear away the clouds from her 
conscience. 

" I must do my duty," she muttered. 
" She is, or she is not, in that coffin. It 
must be my duty to clear up the mystery, 
even though it bring a scandal on my own 
family, no matter what comes of it ; Maria 
Ansell must do her duty." 

And she turned her back upon the dead 
w^oman, and watched with a flinty face for 
the opening of the door. 

Dr. Grafton was rather afraid of the stern 
spinster, and obeyed her command at once. 
He had been fond of his daughter-in-law, 
and regretted her sudden death, both for 



192 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

her sake and for the sake of the son who 
was in a foreign land, unknowing the loss 
he had sustained of the wife he so dearly 
loved. He was, as I said, afraid of Miss 
Ansell; but lie was quite unprepared for 
what she had to say to him. The sema- 
phore-like arms pointed to a vacant chair, 
and then she seated herself so as to look 
him full in the face. 

"Dr. Grafton," she said, "as a man of 
honour and a Christian, are you doing your 
duty?" 

" My duty," stuttered the little man, 
" with reference to what ? Believe me^ I 
never willingly neglect my duty, but I am 
at a loss to understand you." 

"Then of course you have ascertained 
where your daughter-in-law died, and you 
have convinced yourself that she is dead; you 
can answer for it that she has not been mur^ 
dered! In fact. Dr. Grafton, you have, of 



THE MYSTERY. 193 

course, identified her body, and have had a 
post-mortem examination of the same !" 

The little man got very pale, and sprang 
from his chair in great agitation. 

" Surely, surely, madam, you cannot for 
one moment imagine that there has been 
any foul play, it is impossible ! simply im- 
possible !" and he sank down again dejectedly 
in his seat, as a bottle of soda-water after 
the first fizz and splutter subsides. 

Miss Ansell continued, mercilessly point- 
ing with a long bony finger to the coffin. 

"I repeat, have you identified her?" 

*' I — I — no ! I can't say I have. I never 
thought of what seems to me so unheard 
of — I — I — might even say so indecent — a 
proceeding as re-opening a coffin, unless 
there were grounds for suspicion." 

" Tut, tut," interrupted Miss Ansell, im- 
patiently ; " perhaps it's filled with bricks !" 

VOL. I. 13 



194 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

'' Madam," cried Dr. Grafton, " remember 
she was my son's wife !" 

"Perhaps," continued Miss Ansell, waiv- 
ing him into silence — " perhaps you will find 
her with her throat cut !" 

" Good God V cried the unfortunate man, 
heads of perspiration starting out upon his 
clammy brow. " Who ? who, I say, could 
wish to injure such a sweet woman as Kate ? 
No ! no ! the thing's absurd — unheard of. 
Kate could have had no enemies, and we 
have Dr. Cartland's certificate of her death. 
You must have forgotten this. Miss Ansell.'* 

" I have forgotten nothing, sir," said that 
lady, stiffly ; " but Dr. Cartland may be the 
greatest villain unhung, for all I know of 
him ; he may have murdered the girl him- 
self." 

Dr. Grafton smiled. 

" I can assure you Dr. Cartland is thought 



THE MYSTEKY. 195 

very liiglily of in his profession. I do not for 
a moment think he would give a false certi- 
ficate ; nor do I believe he had any grudge 
against Kate. Why, they were the best of 
friends, George, Kate, Cartiand and all. 
No, no ! Miss Ansell, we may leave the 
poor child at peace, Laura tells me she had 
a fearful cough. I, as a medical man, can 
assure you that inflammation of the lungs 
often kills ver}'- quickly. Poor Kate ! She 
was a sweet young woman, and my son will 
lose a good wife in her." 

Miss Ansell looked at him steadily, and 
then spoke, '' I believe you are only a fool, 
Dr. Grafton, though your conduct might be 
taken for that of a knave. I mean to have 
this coffin opened to-night. If she be in it, 
there must be medical opinion as to whether 
she died by fair means ; and, if there be any 
uncertainty upon the subject, I mean to 

13—2 



196 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

have a 'post-mortem.' Now, I am going to 
see the clergyman and the magistrate about 
it. You will find I can do my duty. I 
wish you good-day, sir 1" And jMiss Ansell 
stalked out of the room. 

Dr. Grafton rose too, but only to go over 
to the coffin. He gently smoothed the 
flowers with his hand. " My poor girl," he 
murmured, "if I thought for one moment 
that any one had done you a wrong, I 
would let them disturb you even now ; but 
who should want to injure you, my little 
Kate ?" and something very like a tear fell 
upon the white blossoms. " Before Heaven, 
I swear, I would avenge you, child," con- 
tinued the old man, " if I thought that any 
cne had harmed a hair of your head, but I 
do not ; and why should I subject you to 
scandal and gossip m your grave. I must 
try and stop this strong-minded old woman 



THE MYSTEEY. 197 

from lier purpose;" and he turned, and 
quitted the room. 

But Miss Ansell was not to be stopped, 
she had already left the house when Dr. 
Grrafton went to seek her ; and she succeeded 
in alarming the clergyman and the magis- 
trate ; and before daylight waned, all con- 
cerned were in Kate Grafton's room waiting 
painfully while the undertaker, with a 
grating sound, unturned the screws, and 
did the needful work, so that the dead 
woman might again be brought into the 
light of day. 

Dr. Cartland was present, and, by his wish, 
Kate's maid. Eager, anxious faces watched 
to see the occupant of the narrow house. 
Dr. Cartland was pale as the face which was 
revealed to them, when the lid was at last 
raised ; but he was quiet and calm, and very 
unlike a man who is about t"> look upon the 



198 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

woman he has murdered. Every one, almost 
involuntarily glanced at him. He neither 
sought, nor shunned their gaze; but after 
looking for some time at the face of the 
dead, he said — 

"She is sadly altered since I saw her 
last ; so she will hardly be recognisable to 
you. Dr. Grafton." 

The father-in-law gazed earnestly at the 
corpse. "She is altered, but the features 
are the same. Yes ! it is my daughter-in- 
law ; but how much older she looks, and 
how disfigured !" 

" Yes," said Dr. Cartland, " when people 
die in a full habit of body they very quickly 
change." There was an almost impercep- 
tible tone of relief in his voice, as he con- 
tinued, " I am glad you are satisfied, Dr. 
Grafton, that I have not deceived you." 

" I never, for one moment, supposed you 



THE MYSTERY. 199 

had, Dr. Cartland," said the elder man, 
grasping the hand of the other. " This 
investigation has been entirely at the wish 
of, and to satisfy, Miss Ansell, who I hope 
is satisfied now." 

" I would not swear to that's being my 
niece," she answered, stiffly. '' She is 
strangely altered if her death was a natural 
one." 

Mrs. Greorge Grrafton's maid here looked 
up eagerly, ''I could identify my mistress, 
if I mio^ht be allowed to raise her sleeve 
just above the wrist, there will be a scratch, 
I did it myself, putting her skirt over her 
head, only a few days ago, there was a pin 
in the dress. I did not notice it. Mrs. 
Grafton was very kind, and only laughed, 
and said, I had spoilt her beauty, and she 
must wear long sleeves till it was well ; but 
she straightway put on a white muslin with 



200 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

open ones, which showed the scratch, which 
looked red and sore." 

Miss Ansell at once stepped forward. 

" Which arm ?" she asked. 

" The left, ma am." 

And in another moment, the arm lay 
bared. Death's discoloration was upon it, 
but there was also a scar like the one the 
girl spoke of. 

" I will swear to that," said the girl. 
" Yes, that is my poor dear mistress !" 

Dr. Cartland turned to Miss Ansell, "Are 
you satisfied now ? I trust so, for my 
friend, George Grrafton's sake ; these investi- 
gations are most painful to me. He would 
not, I am sure, like his dead wife to be 
subjected to further inspection," and he- 
gently closed one of the coffin lids. 

•'•'You are right, Cartland," said Dr.. 
Grafton, 



THE MYSTERY. 201 



The clergyman and magistrate had 
remained silent spectators of the scene ; 
they now both advanced, with kind words 
of regret for the dead woman ; but said 
they were thankful that there was no 
ground for suspicion. 

But they were soon interrupted by the 
stern old maid, " I am the only living 
relation of Mrs. George Grafton ; this in- 
vestigation has only satisfied me that she 
is dead ; the next question is, how she came 
by her death ? I must insist on a post- 
mortem examination !" 

In vain every one argued with her. She 
had her own way, and the examination took 
place the next morning before the proper 
authorities; and it was decided, without 
doubt, that George Grafton's wife had died 
of inflammation of the lungs; and there 
was nothing left to do, but to transplant 



202 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

her into " God's Acre." And even Miss 
Ansell was satisfied that every one had 
done their duty, and that Kate's death was 
a plain fact, and no mystery, after all. 




CHAPTER YI. 



BERYL CHANT LER. 




MONG the passengers bound for 
Ceylon were a Mr. and Mrs. 
■Chantler and their daughter, a young girl 
of fifteen years old, a fragile, fairy-like little 
creature, very childish for her age, shrinking 
from even the most common-place acquaint- 
ance with her fellow-travellers on board the 
"May Queen." Beryl Chantler loved her 
parents with the passionate devotion which 
is felt sometimes by an only child, who has 
no brothers or sisters to share his or her 
heart amongst. Beryl had no room in hers 
for any image save those two, who filled it 
to overflowinsr. 



204 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

A sincere friendship grew up between. 
Mr. Chantler and Greorge Grafton. They 
had both lost their money from the failure 
of coffee crops, both were on their way ta 
try and retrieve their fortunes, but Mr. 
Chantler had harder work before him than 
George Grafton. He had bought his coffee 
plantation from another man, knowing no- 
thing about it himself, and found he 
had made a bad bargain — had, in fact,, 
been taken in. And now he had made 
up his mind to settle in Ceylon, and work 
the plantation himself, when he should 
have learnt to do so ; whereas George- 
only meant to put things straight, and then 
return to his home, and his wife, whose 
image he kept green in his heart. He had 
promised to help Mr. Chantler too, and put 
him in the right way of working his pro- 
perty, and both men were standing on deck 



BERYL CHANTLER. 205 

with hopeful hearts, not more than a couple 
of days' journey from their destination. They 
were talking cheerfully of their future, when 
the captain's voice broke in upon them. 

"We shall have an ugly night, gentle- 
men. Do you see the golden rim round 
the moon ? A storm is not many hours 
•off, I'll warrant." 

The elements rose slowly hut surely. 
Black clouds banked the moon in until it 
was hidden utterly in the darkness of the 
night, but still the " May Queen" kept on 
her course, and the captain stuck to his 
post hke a man. But suddenly in the black- 
ness they heard his voice — 

*' Good God ! there is a light on our 
right. We are out of our course. If that 
should prove to be the Maldive Islands we 
are lost !" 

He was speaking to his first lieutenant, 



206 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

but before he had time to issue any orders 
they struck suddenly on the rocks, and the 
good ship shivered from stem to stern with 
the knowledge of her doom. The fires 
were quickly put out by the rushing, 
rapidly-increasing water. The captain was 
calm and collected. He ordered the boats 
to be lowered ; he called on all men on 
board to help to save life, for the good " May 
Queen" would sink more suddenly than they 
were aware. He told them he should stick 
to the old craft and share her doom, with 
just a quiver in his voice, as he remembered 
the dear ones who would await his return 
in vain. He ordered torches to be lighted, 
and by their glare they saw with dismay 
that no boat could live in such a sea, upon 
which he desired rafts to be constructed, 
and upon them many of the passengers were 
launched upon the angry ocean, while others^ 



BERYL CHANTLER. 207 

refusing to believe in the extreme danger of 
the ship, preferred remaining on board, and 
many persisted in getting into the boats, 
which upset at once, adding to the horror of 
the scene by the shrieks of the struggling, 
drowning wretches. The large raft had been 
launched with its freight of human lives. 
There had been a fearful struggle for places 
on it, in which George and the Chantlers 
had taken no part. They were still upon 
the deck of the " May Queen/' The captain 
had watched off the raft, when his eyes fell 
on the little group. 

" Mr. Chantler,'' he cried, " why did ^^ou 
not go on the raft ? She will ride the waves 
in safety." 

" We are three," he answered. " Three. 
It was a case of every man for himself. How 
they fought for a place ! like demons let 
loose." 



•208 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" By my word !" said the captain, " this 
lily blossom shall not perish if I can help 
it," taking Beryl by the hand. " Miss 
Beryl, I have a daughter too, a fair girl like 
you; kiss me for her sake, child. I shall 
never see her sweet face again !" 
■ Beryl Chan tier, usually so shy, seemed 
undaunted by the danger, and looking up 
in the captain's torch-lit face, she saw the 
tears he was shedding for his child, and 
straightway went and put her arms about 
his neck, and kissed him. Her parents had 
moved some distance off, so as not to intrude 
upon his grief. George Grafton had not 
heard these words. He was just coming 
up with some spars attached to some ropes 
which he held in his hand, when the " May 
Queen" lurched head foremost into the 
water ; but George Grafton, Beryl Chantler, 
and the captain were not yet engulfed. George 



BERYL CHANTLER. 20^ 

seized the girl in his arms, and with the 
seaman's help attached her to the spars 
which they had hurriedly lashed together. 
In the excitement Beryl was mercifully 
spared the knowledge of her parent's fate. 

" Go with her," cried the captain ; '' for 
the love of God be quick 1" and George was^ 
with a few masterly knots, secured to the 
little raft with Beryl Chantler for his com- 
panion. He held the girl's hands for sym- 
pathy, and to help her face the death which 
he doubted not was to be their joint por- 
tion. The captain, and a few of the sailors 
who stood by him, launched them safely, 
and the girl clung silently to the hand she 
held. Once she tried to pierce the dark- 
ness, and asked George where her parents 
were, and he had answered her — 

" They are safe, dear child !" upon which 
she had become contented. 

VOL. I. 14 



210 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

They heard the captain's voice now at a 
little distance, calling out to Greorge to take 
care of her, and then there came a mighty 
rush as the waters overwhelmed the " May 
Queen." 

Day was beginning to break, and the two 
passengers on that little raft looked around 
to see who else had been saved besides 
themselves, but they were so small, and the 
waves so high, that they could discern 
nothing ; the wind had gone down, but the 
sea was troubled still. The sun arose, and 
beat upon them, mercilessly, and they soon 
suffered acutely from thirst. The sea was 
like a millpond now, as the sun was about 
to set, when all at once George heard a 
sound that made his heart leap for joy. He 
could plainly distinguish the oscillation of 
paddle-wheels, or a screw ; and in due time 
a steamer came in sight of them, and was 



BERYL CHANTLER. 211 

within hail. Her captain seemed to be on 
the look-out for them, for he had stopped 
and lowered a boat. Kind hands soon ex- 
tricated both Beryl and George from their 
cramped and painful position, and had lifted 
them into the boat. The poor girl, who had 
kept up a brave heart through all the 
dangers of that dreadful night and day, was 
now ready to faint at the reaction, when the 
strain was taken off. She heard the officer 
in command telling Greorge how they had 
rescued a number of those who had left the 
wreck on the raft, and her eager eyes sought 
the steamer's deck, to try and discover those 
she loved among the watchers' faces. She 
was too exhausted to remember whether her 
parents had gone on the raft or no. She 
knew George had said " they were safe," 
and she concluded that they had been picked 
up like the others. In this belief she 

14—2 



212 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

managed, with help, to get on board the 
steamer, and then, when the little band of 
saved ones pressed around to welcome her, 
she faintly asked if her parents were among^ 
them; and upon hearing the answer, fell 
senseless on the deck. 

George was by her in a second, and alsa 
the young officer who had come to the 
rescue, who, if truth must be told, had fallen 
in love with the fragile girl at first sight, 
perhaps because she was so young, and fair 
and delicate-looking, while he, with his 
bronzed face and powerful frame, looked to 
belong to another world. Greorge essayed 
to lift lier, but he was worn out, and the 
young sailor pressed eagerly forward. 

" You are tired, sir, let me carry your — 
this lady — to my cabin 1" and without an- 
other word he descended with his burthen 
between decks, followed by Greorge; and 



BERYL CHANTLER. 213 

Beryl was laid upon the sailor's little bed. 
He gazed long upon that lily face, and then 
turned abruptly to George. " Is she your 
sister, sir?" 

" No," he answered, with a smile at the 
young man's eagerness. 

" No ? surely she is not your wife .^" 

Greorge laughed out. 

" The young lady is Miss Beryl Chantler, 
aged fifteen. Her parents — God rest them ! 
— were drowned last night. I am, as far 
as T know, her only friend on earth, and I 
shall take her home as a present to my 
wife, as soon as my work at Ceylon is done." 

Charles Summers gave a sigh of relief, if 
such a powerful noise coming from so brawny 
a chest could be called by that name. This, 
then, was no rival, he thought ; and he fell 
to looking again at the inanimate little face 
upon his pillow. 



214 THE HAZELHUEST MTSTEET. 

" What is your name ?" asked Greorge. 

" Summers — Charles Summers. And 
J 

"Grafton," answered Greorge. "And 
now, Mr. Summers, can you find a doctor ? 
or if you have not one on board, be good 
enough to bring some brandy/' 

" You don't think Miss Chantler is very 
ill, do you, Mr. Grafton? We have no 
doctor on board. You see, we have come 
for a cargo here, not with passengers, but I 
can get you plenty of brandy, and the 
captain has a medicine chest." 

" Never mind medicine, it is exhaustion. 
We must try and get her round, and then 
give her some food. She is famished, poor 
girl. Look sharp, my good fellow, you can 
gaze when you come back," and the sailor 
rushed off, and soon came back laden with 



BERYL CHANTLER. 215 

the brandy and the best food he could pro- 
cure for Beryl. 

It was a stranofe sisrht, those two stronof 
men bending over the pale, childish form^ 
rubbing brandy upon her hands, and feet, 
and brow — putting bird-like sips between 
her lips. Soon their efforts were crowned 
with success. Beryl Cliantler opened her 
eyes ; she looked at Charles Summers, but 
did not remember him, and then she looked 
at George, and said — 

" Oh ! Mr. G-rafton, tell me the truth— are 
my parents safe ? Yon told mo they were 
safe." 

George took her hand in his. 

" Little Beryl ! I will be your friend as 
long as I live. You will soon love my wife, 
and be happy with her.'' 

"But my parents," she cried, "are theij 
safe ?" 



216 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" Yes, Beryl ; safe from all further sorrow 
and trouble ; safe from disappointment and 
care. Together, and at rest, ' safe in the 
arms of Jesus !' looking down with loving 
eyes upon their child, telling her to keep 
up a brave heart, to be a good woman, and 
to join them in their happy home hereafter." 

A spasm shot through the girl's blue eyes, 
the dilated pupils looked at George with a 
vague horror for a moment, and then she 
burst into an agony of tears. 

" Father ! Mother 1 come back to me ! 
don't leave me alone ! come back, I have no 
one but you ! oh, mother ! mother !" 

George drew the girl close to him, but 
did not by words interrupt her passion of 
grief. He judged rightly, it was best over, 
that tears would bring relief, the storm be 
followed by a calm. It was Beryl's first 
trouble ! 



BERYL CHANTLEH. 217 

George Gralton was as good as his word, 
he was a friend indeed to the orphan girl. 
Directly they landed at Ceylon, he made a 
home for her. At first, he was going to 
put her to board in a family; but she 
entreated him not to send her among stran- 
gers. So he got his overseer's wife to live 
at his house, and take care of Beryl, and 
the girl repaid him by the devotion of a 
dog, would follow him for hours, or sit by 
him silently, ever on the watch for his least 
whim or wish. George was always kind to 
Beryl Chantler, but his love for his wife 
was too great for him to notice the girl's 
affection for him, if he thought of it at all, 
he considered it only natural she should be 
fond of the man who had been her parent's 
friend. But Beryl felt more than this. 
The deep devotion of her nature had be- 
longed to her parents while they lived ; and 



218 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

now that they were dead, they were still 
beloved, but youth needs more than a 
memory to cling to, and Beryl had set up 
George in her heart as an idol to be wor- 
shipped, without once thinking that such 
a love and worship would be wrong. She 
believed him to be perfect, and she would 
have given her life to save him from one 
pang of sorrow. Such a love as Elaine in 
her gentleness gave to Launcelot, Beryl 
Chantler bestowed on George Grafton. 
He, like Launcelot, had given his heart to 
another; and dreamed not of the love he 
had awakened. So time wore on, and Beryl 
was almost happy even without her parents, 
being near him ; seeing his face, hearing 
his voice. 

George found his plantation was not in 
the bad condition he had supposed ; good 
news, indeed, to him, when he was daily 



BERYL CHANTLEE. 21tv 



and liourly longing to be back in that 
pretty, peaceful home at Hazelhurst, where 
he pictured his wife in her floating white 
muslins, relieved, as was her wont, with 
some crimson flower. He had received one 
or two letters from her, friendly, affectionate 
letters, such as might have come from a 
loving sister to a valued brother. But 
George, never suspicious, failed to miss the 
ring of the true metal of wifely love. 

It was a fortnight now since he had 
heard, and he was sitting silently with 
Kate's last letter in his hand, he had read 
it often and often and been cheered by it, 
but, somehow, to-day his spirits were at 
zero ; and the well-read note failed to rouse 
him out of himself. He did not even see 
Beryl who sat watching him almost hidden 
among the folds of the curtains. 

" I cannot bear it," he murmured ; " I 



^20 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

wish I had never left my darling ! how do 
I know what ill may befall her ? and how 
she begged me not to go ! Kate ! Kate ! 
what presentiment of evil is upon me? 
I had an offer for the plantation to-day. 
Shall I take it ? We should not be rich, 
but we should have enough for a dinner of 
herbs, and contentment would make a good 
sauce to accompany it, and you would never 
reproach me for poverty, I know, dear 
Kate." 

So intent was he upon his thoughts that 
he failed to notice the entrance of a servant 
with letters, but when he saw them, he 
rushed eagerly at them, and scanned the 
writing of each hastily till he came to the last. 

"None from Kate," he cried, and sunk 
despondingly down in his chair again, no 
longer in a hurry to open them, but pre- 
sently there came into his mind a vague 



BERYL CHAJSTTLER. 221 

idea of black borders, and lie turned once 
more to the letters. His father's writings 
was the first to greet him ; his letter was 
kind and consolatory, offering George the 
deepest sympathy in his trial, speaking with 
loving regret of poor Kate, and saying how 
unspeakably shocked they had all been at 
her sudden death, and ending by mentioning 
the care and kindness Dr. Cartland had 
shown her in her illness. 

A deadly pallor overspread his face as he 
read, a deep groan escaped his lips, but he 
uttered no word. 

Beryl saw his anguish, and with nervous, 
clasping hands, watched him, afraid to 
move; afraid to interrupt his grief, what- 
ever it might be — fearing to seem to pry 
into it if she moved near, or offered her 
sympathy — watching his face with the ex- 
pression of dumb compassion, and sympa- 



222 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

thetic sorrow which a faithful dog would 
have for his beloved master. 

George next opened a letter from Miss 
Ansell, announcing her niece's sudden death ; 
and telling him that, having considered it 
open to suspicion, she had deemed it her 
duty to have it properly investigated, hut 
she was glad to be able to inform him that 
Kate had died from natural causes. She 
expressed no sorrow for her niece's death, 
or regret for her husband's sufferings, but 
begged him to humble himself under the 
Lord's chastening hand, lest worse evil 
might befall liim ! 

" Worse evil !" he thought ; " what worse 
evil CO aid come to him than losing the wife 
he had loved so dearly?" and he tossed Miss 
Ansell's letter from him with disgust. 

The next, which was from Dr. Cartland, 
must be given verbatim : — 



BERYL CHANTLER. 223 

''Mr DEAR George, — This letter must 
needs be very painful to me to write, and to 
you to read, though I know your pain must 
exceed what is felt by me or any one else. 
I had better give you a detailed account of 
your dear wife's last illness, and subsequent 
<leath. I did not see Mrs. Grrafton for some 
time after you left. I did not like to in- 
trude upon her natural regret at your ab- 
sence. When I called she told me Miss 
Grafton was coming to stay with her, which 
I was glad to hear, as she seemed low and 
out of spirits. I was often at your house 
during 3^our sister's visit. Mrs. Grafton 
did not seem well or lively as she used to 
be. Then, after a month's stay, Miss 
Graftou left, and your wife went to London 
to see her off. I did not know that she 
intended to do so, and went to the station 
to see if I could be of any use to your 



224 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

sister. I was very mucli shocked at the 
change in Mrs. Grafton, and she coughed 
distressingly — her cheeks were flushed, her 
lips parched. Miss Grafton and I both said 
how sorry we were she had attempted the 
journey, but she said it was nothing, at least, 
only a cold she had caught going into the 
garden the evening before — she should be 
all right in a day or two. We had not 
much time to spare before Miss Grafton 
was in the train and steaming from the plat- 
form, then I took Mrs. Grafton to my car- 
riage, which was waiting. I noticed her 
breathing, and felt her pulse, and saw at 
once the only chance of saving her was to 
get her to bed immediately, so without even 
asking her leave, I drove her to a respectable 
lodging I knew of, and persuaded her to 
come in. She was inclined to be angry 
with me at first, but was too ill to raise 



BERYL CHANTLER. 225 

many objections. I proposed sending for 
another medical man, but sbe would not 
hear of it. Of what use to go through 
the sad details ? I telegraphed, in her 
name, to her servants, not to expect bar 
home. 

" My dear Greorge, I could not save her I 
I called in another medical man when I 
found she was getting rapidly worse. She 
could not speak when he arrived, and very 
shortly afterwards she died of simple suffoca- 
tion from inflammation of the lungs. I did 
what I thought you would wish in the 
ordering of her coffin, and having done so I 
hired a hearse and bad her taken to her 
home. I arrived there about the same 
time, and was annoyed to find an unseemly 
discussion going on as to whether your ser- 
vants would take in the coffin — they all 
seemed afraid of their own shadows. I 

VOL. I. 15 



^26 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

wrote at once to Dr. Grafton and Miss 
Ansell, and made all arrangements for the 
funeral. I grieve to tell you Miss Ansell 
made herself very objectionable, protesting 
that she believed her niece had been murdered, 
and that she should do her duty — and she 
did it, if re-opening your wife's coffin in 
the presence of witnesses, and a post-mortem 
examination, was her duty. 

" I need hardly tell you all this has oc- 
casioned much Hazelhurst talk, and I did 
all I could to prevent it. But Miss Ansell 
pointed at me as the murderer of her niece, 
so I could do and say no more. I think 
you know George how sincerely fond I was 
of Mrs. Grafton, and that her loss would 
make a terrible blank in the life of a man 
who has no '"'kith and kin,'*' has man}^ ac- 
quaintances, but makes few friends. Miss 
Ansell is now satisfied that the only mystery 



BEEYL CHANTLER. 227 

was the death itself, which poor dear Kate 
has gone to solve. You know, my dear 
fellow, how truly sorry I am for you. — 
With kind regards, your sincere friend, 

" H. Cartland." 

George read the letter through like a 
man in a dream, and then covered his face 
with his hands in the vain endeavour to 
shut out the ghastly truth — that Kate was 
dead and huried. The horrible spectacle 
of the post-mortem examination came before 
him — the gossip that had followed. She 
had died alone, no friend of her own sex 
with her ; no one but Cartland. " Oh, 
God, help me to bear it !" he cried out in 
the agony of his mind. 

Beryl heard the words, and could no 
longer keep away from his side. He started 
when she laid her tiny hand on his. It 



128 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 



took his fancy, even in his grief, that she 
looked like a ministering angel, standing 
beside him dressed in soft pure white. 

"Let me help you, dear/' she pleaded, 
*' what is your trouble ? I too have suf- 
fered, Mr. Grafton !" and the tears stole 
down her cheeks in sorrow for herself and 
him. 

He only patted the small hand, and she 
crept to his feet silently, and nestled there, 
which was more comforting than all the 
words she could have uttered. There was 
nothing for George to go home for now, so 
he gave himself up to work, and grew 
rapidly rich again. He talked but little to 
Beryl, but found comfort in her presence. 
He had told her all the story of his life, and 
of his wife's sad and sudden death, and she 
had listened, grieving for his grief, sorrow- 
ing for his sorrow, envying the dead woman 



BERYL CHANTLER. 229 

in her grave who had been so well loved. 
But Beryl's love was all unselfish. She 
gave all, expectmg nothing in return, and 
was contented so that she might be with 
Oeorge. 



END OE VOL. I. 



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BY THE AUTHOR OF "FACES IN THE FIRE," &c. 

NOBLE BY HEEITAGE. By Oeorge 

Frederick Paedon, Author of " Caleb Worthington's 
Wish," &c. 1 vol. 

" An exceedingly interesting and well-written tale, the various incidents of 
which are admirably planned, and worked out with considerable skill." — City 
Press. 

"Mr. Pardon's novel will afiord much pleasant entertainment to novel 
readers." — Court Journal. 

PHILIP CAREY, VISIONARY. Written 

by Himself. Edited by Richard Digby. 1 vol. 



TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET, STRAND.